Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strawberries!

Strawberry season has been upon us for quite some time now. They usually come from the greenhouses in early December, but at that time are quite expensive. As time goes on, they continue to get less and less expensive, and so all winter I've been wanting to buy a lot of strawberries in bulk and preserve them for the coming year.

Yesterday was finally the day! My helper, Lou, found a strawberry vendor on the street who had just received this shipment of strawberries from the field at 4am. The price had dropped sufficiently--from 18 local dollars per pound when strawberries first arrived to 4 local dollars for our purchase yesterday! That is about $.55 per pound. Wow! We took advantage of this low price and bought twenty pounds. Twenty pounds! That's a lot of strawberries!

Lou spent pretty much the whole day working on the strawberries. First she washed them carefully and hulled them, then set them out to dry a bit. She measured out about 8 cups to use for jam-making (To my dismay, I only had one lonely box of Sure-Jell left in my cupboard!), and set aside any that were soft for making strawberry vinegar. Then, we saved some particularly fine looking strawberry specimens for eating, and the rest were packed very carefully in ziploc bags for freezing.

Here's some pictures of the sensational strawberries:
Strawberry vinegar is the main ingredient in my homemade strawberry vinaigrette. (A recipe acquired a long time ago from my friend Kris Sommer.) It's so simple to make! Simply fill a large glass jar with strawberries, then pour in white vinegar to cover. Put the lid on and leave sitting on your counter for 10 days. On the tenth day, drain the berries, reserving the liquid, and then mash the berries to extract all of the lovely strawberry flavor. Discard the pulp, measure the liquid, and for every 1 cup of vinegar add 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, continuing until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and then store in jars in the refrigerator. It keeps for years. This is wonderful drizzled over fresh fruit.
If you want to go one step further and make the vinaigrette, simply mix in a food processor or blender:
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp chopped onion
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
The vinaigrette will keep in the frig several weeks. Measurements are to taste.
The jam also turned out beautifully, so much so that the girls asked for peanut butter and jam sandwiches last night for supper. I have so many memories of eating the homemade jam made by my Grandma Roelofs as I was growing up; she always seemed to have a limitless stash in her freezer and would share it around generously. Many was the time I stopped to visit my grandparents on the way to or from college and Grandma made a little care package for me to take back to school, always including the jam. As an adult I asked her once what was her secret recipe. She responded, "Why, the recipe on the back of the box, of course!" It must have been the love that made it taste so good!
We'll be enjoying strawberries for many months to come. I think I see some smoothies in our future!
Hope you enjoyed these pictures...they are a success story! I am ever so slowly getting acclimated to our new camera, and finally sucessfully downloaded pictures to my computer, installed a photo resizer program, resized them, and blogger accepted them! Now that I've done it once, I assume I can do it again, so be looking for some more picture-heavy posts in the near future.

3 comments:

sandra said...

I've been thinking strawberries too!

Jennifer said...

Living so close to Plant City (the home of the strawberry!), we have been enjoying these for about a month now and I am still not sick of them yet!

I didn't can any this year, but know how deeply satisfying canning can feel. You could always make strawberry syrup if you don't have enough pectin. That is good over ice cream or in milk or yogurt.

Tracy said...

Yum! Thanks for the strawberry vinaigrette recipe! We've planted lots of strawberry plants this year, so hopefully next year we'll have strawberries :)

Kris is a friend of mine too!