Thursday, June 27, 2013

What to do with twenty five pounds of strawberries (seven ways)

This was the first year we went picking strawberries in Michigan and really enjoyed it.  The farm (DeLange's Redberry Farm in Hudsonville) we went to was fully prepared for the strawberry fields and I was surprised how many we picked in such little time.

All in all, the eight of us picked 16 quarts (25 pounds) of strawberries in about a half hour.  

And then we got home.  And I had no idea what I was going to do with that many berries.

So I began researching strawberry recipes and ended up using our berries in many different ways.

Freezing whole berries
Wash and lay the strawberries out to dry on paper towels for about an hour.  I left them on top of our deep freezer in the garage so none of the kids would eat them before they got to be frozen.  Then line your baking sheets with parchment paper (so they don't stick) and put the baking sheet flat in the freezer.  Your berries will take probably two to three hours to completely freeze depending on their size.  Once they are frozen, throw them in a bag and seal it up.  They work well in smoothies and eating frozen (especially if you have a teething toddler!)  If you choose to thaw them out, just be aware that they will be a little more mushy than when they were fresh.  Frozen strawberries are good for 3-6 months.

Freezing strawberry puree
It is exactly what it sounds like.  I pureed the majority of our berries and used the puree for multiple purposes.  I found that they work really well when frozen in ice cube trays and stored in a ziploc bag.  These work really well for smoothies and added to drinks like lemonade.  These strawberry ice cubes are good for 6-12 months.

Strawberry Popsicles

I also used the strawberry puree to pour into our Zoku popsicle maker and gave the kids strawberry popsicles.  Calla loved these the most and now whenever I open the freezer, she has to have one!

Freezer jam

I decided to try making freezer jam for the first time too.  Even though we don't eat a lot of jam here (our PB sandwiches are made with honey), I wanted to try it out and figured it would make a good gift, if nothing else.  

I bought this kind of pectin and it ended up making four of those 4 oz freezer jars (the recipe is on the back of the package).  It is really tasty and will be used over ice cream and Greek yogurt.  

If you have never made jam or jelly before or canned before, this is a great way to start and is super easy!

Fruit Leather
I don't have a picture of this.... because I accidentally burned ours.  But there are a TON of recipes for making fruit leather online and as long as you don't accidentally crank the heat on your oven because you have hungry kids that want frozen pizza right away and you forget that your fruit leather is drying... you should be fine.

Strawberry shortcake
This was a favorite for the kids.  After washing the strawberries, I cut them in fours and sprinkled a tiny bit of sugar on them to let them macerate.  Once they were softened up, we mashed them and poured them over freshly made angel food cake and topped it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream.  To me, this is the epitome of summer.  You can't have a summer get together without strawberry shortcake. 

And lastly,
Eating them by the handful
You can't beat fresh strawberries.  So we made sure to set aside a bowl of berries to eat plain with every meal.  

Even though we started with 25 pounds of strawberries, they didn't last as long as I thought they would!  The kids and I plan on making another stop next week to stock up on berries for the Fourth of July weekend and to replace the dent they have made in the bag of strawberry ice cubes.  We also want to make sure to have enough for when Matt comes home, frozen berries are his favorite snack!

How do you use your excess berries?  What favorite recipes does your family have?

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