Wednesday, June 12, 2013

3 Things to do with a flat of Strawberries

Buying in bulk can be as much of a headache as a reward.  Sure, the savings can be incredible, but only if you use it.  Living in the land of excess where Americans throw away 40% of their food, 2 quarts of those strawberries should have been chucked straight in the bin.  Now, maybe a few bruised and squishy strawberries fell victim to the bin, but the majority prevailed and became three different items to be enjoyed over the next year.

In all fairness, strawberries are easy items to be creative with.  And for someone who is just starting out in canning or other types of food preservation-strawberries can be an ideal starting point-they were certainly mine.  As they are forgiving, sweet and provide a lot of options.  I purchased my strawberries from an organic farm in Centralia, IL.  Strawberries have had a late start to the year with the excessive amount of rain we have received.  These berries were vibrant in color, small and uniform in shape.  A smaller berry will be more sweet and flavorful as opposed to a larger berry which has a more watered down flavor1.

A good (left) and bad (right) strawberry.
Sometimes strawberries are harder to tell the good from the bad at first glance, but after hulling a few of them, you will begin to get a better idea of what to look for.  In the above photo, I sliced the tops off these two strawberries to give you a clear idea of how a good strawberry has a very vibrant color and a bad strawberry's color is more dull looking.

#1: Frozen Strawberries

Freezing fruit is very easy, but it is a three-step process.
  1.   Wash & hull strawberries
  2. Place strawberries, point-up, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and put in freezer
  3. Wait one hour and then bag strawberries in ziplocks, careful to remove as much air as possible.  
Bonus Step: place all the little bags of strawberries into a gallon sized bag, to further protect them from freezer burn.

I have these now to use in the off-season and Levi loves to use them for his smoothies!

#2: Strawberry Jam

 All containers of Sure-gel and other knock-off brands have multiple recipes for different ways to make jam.  I find I use different types of canning methods based off what storage I have available.  In this case, I had no freezer space (after freezing all those strawberries) and decided to cook the jam as opposed to freezer jam.

#3: Marinated Strawberries

Last summer, my girlfriend and I decided to make limoncello for fun.  I have two large bottles sitting in my freezer that Levi and I are slowly working our way through.  With the 4th of July coming up-I decided to marinate some of my strawberries in the limoncello and keep them in the freezer.  In the heat of July, we will pass out frozen, citrus flavored strawberries for our guests to enjoy!

These are just a few ways I utilize a flat.  Please share in the comments below some of the things you do with strawberries!

1. The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by: Sharon Tyler Herbst & Ron Herbst

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