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Tag Archives: berries

Slaving and Salivating over Strawberries

Freshly made freezer jam/sauce, along with tonight’s strawberry harvest

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and rather than sitting in traffic on I-75 with the rest of southeastern Michigan, Bill and I have decided to have a “stay-cation.”  I’m thinking we may regret this decision in the next few days, as temperatures are supposed to be in the 80s and 90s, and a cabin on the lake would be much more pleasant than our sweltering sun-drenched backyard.  But, alas, the decision has been made.  Our exciting plans include lots of sweating profusely, venturing into Detroit to visit Historic Fort Wayne and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and trying desperately to keep up with our strawberry crop.

Thanks to an often summer-like spring, our strawberries came in several weeks earlier than usual.  They are in full force now, and a disproportionately large amount of my time has been devoted to picking, coring, and rinsing them….and using them up before they go bad.  But I don’t mind too much because they are oh so tasty!

Besides munching on them with a sprinkle of sugar, here is what we have made so far: Strawberry spinach salad, a pitcher of strawberry mojitos, strawberry-topped vanilla bean ice cream, strawberry smoothies, homemade strawberry banana “ice cream,” and several jars of freezer jam.

My improvised recipe for the smoothies consists of throwing a handful of fresh strawberries into my Magic Bullet blender along with half of a container of Greek yogurt, some crushed ice, milk (Lactaid), and a spoonful of my last jar of freezer jam from 2010.  Sometimes it’s refreshing to drink lunch from a straw, as I did today.

With the hot weather upon us, I’m thankful that I also recently discovered a quick and easy way to make a creamy frozen treat that is very similar in taste and texture to ice cream. Simply slice up a very ripe banana, freeze the pieces, and then purée them to a smooth consistency. Again, I use the Magic Bullet.  It’s the most healthy and natural ice cream you’ll ever have!  A few days ago, I did the banana thing and added in some fresh strawberries.  It had a great flavor, but  it was a tiny bit soupy due to the juiciness of the berries.  Next time, I’ll freeze the strawberries a bit and see if that will make a difference.

Speaking of juicy….my freezer jam is refusing to set up properly.  I followed the recipe in the Sure Jell package to a tee, but after the requisite 24 hours on the kitchen counter it’s not at all firm.  Not sure what went wrong.  The thing I love about freezer jam, though, is that if it turns out runny, it is still perfect for spooning over pancakes, waffles, crepes, ice cream, or adding into smoothies!

 

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Ryan’s Favorite Raspberry Jam

Ryan's Favorite Raspberry Jam

Our first attempt at making raspberry jam was last summer, and it was spectacular–if I do say so myself. We filled three jelly jars: one we ate immediately, one went up north to our family’s cabin to share, and one went into the freezer to save for the winter. The flavor was just as fresh and perfect after months in the freezer as it was when it was first made, and the consistency was just right.

My mom likes to tell the story about the jar of jam that I left at the cabin. Apparently, my then six-year-old nephew, Ryan, decided that it paired well with the zucchini bread that I had baked. Although I was not there to witness it, I’m told that Ryan absolutely devoured large quantities of jam on the bread and could have gone through another couple of jars without hesitation. So, this recipe is dedicated to Ryan. I hope to bring another jar of jam up to the cabin for the family to enjoy, and maybe drop off one at Ryan’s house–as long as he’s willing to share with the rest of his family. Zucchini bread’s ready, too! (Recipe to come…)

This year, we sealed the jam in a water bath, rather than freezing it, and had enough berries to fill an extra jar. 2 cups of picked berries is just about 1 cup of crushed berries. The following recipe uses the 2-3-4 method of cooking–which you’ll understand when you read it–and no pectin is needed.

RASPBERRY JAM

http://www.food.com/recipe/raspberry-jam-35192

WATER BATH CANNING

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1jpyXPdCRE&feature=youtu.be