My son and niece had a field trip yesterday with their preschool to a local farm. We got to do all things strawberry--pick strawberries, drink strawberry freezes, pick strawberries, take our picture in front of the biggest strawberry I've ever seen, and pick more strawberries.
My son (in the hat) with some friends running through the gherkin barrel maze (would you believe the labels on these barrels said product of India???!!).
My son, niece & daughter on the tractor ride out to the strawberry fields.
At the end of the tractor ride, this is what we saw. Acres and acres of strawberries!! Oh, yeah, baby!!
There's a trick to picking strawberries. Just pinch the stem of the berry between your thumb and forefinger. This prevents damage to both the fruit and the plant. Hubs and I tried to see who could get the biggest, juiciest strawberry. Our son said he wanted the little ones. Not sure about our daughter's method because she tagged along with my in-laws.
Even Farley picked a couple strawberries! This is the class mascot, and my son got to take him home for the weekend. Since Monday was a field trip day, no class, we got to keep him an extra day. It's always fun when Farley comes to visit. :)
It was a fabulous and fun day, but the dilemma now is what to do with all these strawberries? Here's our bounty:
Our family ended up with a 1 gallon bucket and 3 quarts busting at the seams (we weren't even able to close the lids). My sister-in-law and my mother-in-law took the rest. Hubs and I were determined to not let these strawberries of ours go to waste and made a double batch of strawberry freezer jam after the kids went to bed. We still have plenty of strawberries, but that's okay because there's plenty of goodies to make! Here's some ideas for you, in case you find yourself up to your ears in strawberries, too:
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Rinse clean plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly. Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into large bowl. Stir in 4 cups sugar. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix 3/4 cup water and 1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin in small saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute. Add to fruit mixture; stir 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy. A few sugar crystals may remain. Fill all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.
Fresh Strawberry Muffins
I found this mouth-watering recipe and I am drooling just thinking about it! I will definitely make a batch of muffins with some of the strawberries we have.
Whole berries: Place one layer of clean, capped berries on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm. Remove from cookie sheet, package in freezer bag, and seal.
Packing with sugar: Slice berries in halves or thirds. Mix them with sugar (6 cups sliced fruit to 1 cup sugar). Allow the mixture to stand until sugar dissolves (about 10-15 minutes). Pack the fruit and juice into freezer bag or containers. Leave 1/4 inch headspace for pint containers.
Packing without sugar: Strawberries may also be packed whole or sliced without sugar or with minimal sugar, but the color and texture of the thawed fruit will not be as good.
Strawberry Ice Cream
Combine 1 quart sliced strawberres, 2/3 cup sugar and juice of one lemon in a mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Pour 1 cup whipping cream into a mixing bowl. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups sugar, a little at a time, and continue whisking until completely blended. Pour in 1/3 cup half-and-half and whisk to blend. Remove berries from the refrigerator, mash, and stir into the cream base. Transfer the mixture to ice cream maker and freeze.