My youngest (2 years old) decided to venture out and too a little strawberry picking this weekend. It took her a little while (probably a solid pound of berries) to figure out we were supposed to be picking berries and putting them into our flat and not her mouth. Thirty minutes later and $11.50 paid I left with my full flat (11.5 pounds of berries)
The great about thing picking fresh strawberries is they are ripe and delicious, but the bad thing is you only have a few days before they start to go bad. Knowing that my little strawberry monster (and her older sister) would not even be able to get through over 11 pounds of berries in 3-4 days so had to start considering preservation methods.
Prevent the strawberries from molding
Here is an easy technique to extend the life of your berries by a few days to even a week. Prepare a solution of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water (example for pint of berries I prepared above I did 1/8 cup of vinegar and 1.25 cups of water) Add your strawberries and given them a quick spin. Next you can optionally rinse them (solution is pretty weak so I do not taste any vinegar taste if I don’t rinse) and then place on an open air container.
This technique also works for other berries that may have molding problems and can enable your berries to last about a week or even up to 2 weeks depending on the actual ripeness when they were picked.
Sugar coat them
Though fresh organic strawberries are sweet enough all by themselves but adding about a teaspoon of sugar to a pint of cut strawberries will generate some strawberry syrups which can easily give you a week in the fridge. This can be a great topping to ice cream, pound cake, angel food cake, or even by themselves topped with a little whipping cream.
This was the first obvious method of saving some of these delicious berries for next year. I picked up some new 1/2 cup jars since we typically do not make it through a full cup jar once the 3 week timer starts after cracking the seal. Also great size for sharing with the neighbors.
The recipe for any type of jam can be found in your box of pectin but I will repeat it here since I personalized some techniques to speed up the process.
- 5 cups of strawberries (4 cups crushed)
- 7 cups white sugar
- 1 package of pectin (I personally prefer the liquid form)
- Wash and cut tops off berries and crush them. I personally add them to my food processor and given them a little pulse to chop them up. Be sure not to over do this you want some chunks in there not a smooth puree.
- Add berries to large pot or saucepan and heat at medium high and add sugar.
- Let berries and sugar come to a rolling boil (when you still bubbles continue)
- Add pectin and wait until rolling boil returns and let boil for 1 minute while constantly stirring
- Remove from heat and fill cleaned a boiled jars/lids with 1/8 inch gap at the top being careful to remove any jam on the top of the jar.
- Once all jars are filled add to large pot filled with water on rolling boil (be sure to account for the displacement that will occur when you add your jars) The directions say you should have 2-3 inches of water over your jars. My tallest pot doesn’t allow this even for these 1/2 cup jars but have gotten good seals with 1/2-1 inch of water above in the past.
- Let boil for 10 minutes (more if higher altitude but see directions on pectin) and let sit at room temperature. Check the button on the top to see if you have a good seal. If one doesn’t stay down, no worries just through it in the refrigerator and that will be the first jar you consume. Let the remaining sit a room temperature for 24 hours, checking the seal again.
Your jam should be good for up to a year with a solid seal and up to three week refrigerated after opening.
Freezing strawberries is a very easy option for preserving your produce. What I do is wash the berries and remove the tops and split any berries that are significantly larger than the others. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 8-12 hours and transfer to freezer bags and remove air with a straw (poor mans vacuum sealer) or use real vacuum sealer like I did below. With this technique the berries should not stick together and all ready to make some shortcake next winter.