Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Days of Summer Three: Summer Food Part I

Summer brings the most fulfilling activities, which also sometimes happen to be the most delicious! For instance, strawberry picking!

Dave, Corrina and I picked 12, 4 L pails of strawberries, and had quite a time figuring out what to do with them all. My oh my, did it take alot of shuffling to fit all those plump berries into the cool fridge so they could keep until I could get my hands on them.

I had many ambitions for creating delectable strawberry dishes, from shortcake to scones, to pies. In the end we froze most of the berries, turned many into jam, ate 2 strawberry crisps, and dehydrated a pail into perfect cereal pals!

We've been having fun doing strawberry smoothies and shakes, and even went wild and made fresh strawberry daiquiri's.

I contemplated making freezer jam but decided against it for a few reasons. One, Corrina is allergic to fresh strawberries (but did phenomenal at abstaining from eating the berries while picking!) but can eat cooked berries, and two, my wise woman sources tell me the taste and texture of the cooked jam tops the freezer version.

For the Jam I used the less sugar certo pectin for a few batches and regular for a few, following the directions inside the package for each. I actualyl found the regular batches to be a little too sweet. It also bothered me that for the regular certo there are 7 cups of sugar to 4 cups crushed berries, whereas the less sugar certo called for 6 cups of berries to 4 cups of sugar. The only difference is shelf life: regular lasts 1 year, light lasts 6 months. However, I imagine the shelf life won't be a problem, as we are almost done an entire pint of jam already!
The hustle and bustle surrounding the berries was very energizing to me. Washing, hulling, cooking, slicing, and just being consumed by a nutritional task brought me a lot of joy. Won't be quitting my day job sadly (or school, as it were!), although I have thought about becoming a chef or pastry chef before.

We 'tested' Corrina's allergy to fresh berries and few times, so we had the chance to watch her devour a sweet fresh strawberry. She definately looked at us with that "How come you've been holding on on me... these things are amazing!" and came back for me. It became very tricky to monitor her for hives because our test got a little out of control since every time I turned around she was helping herself to another berry! In the end we only found one little cluster of hives, but this only happened about 5 days after eating a few berries a day. Corrina was not bothered by them and they disappeared quickly. We are still sticking to cooked berries for the most part though. My next adventure will be to make cooked strawberry popsicles. I plan on mashing and boiling the strawberries for a short bit of time, letting them cool, and putting them into molds. I doubt they will need sugar to be delicious, but I may reach for a teaspoon of honey if necessary.

Wow, with all this talk about fresh strawberries I really wish they weren't all frozen. Oh well, I guess I will just have to have a handful of the fresh Saskatoon berries that fill my fridge this week! That's another post though!


Mom Colvin said...

We're so jealous! Our strawberry season lasted less than 2 weeks, the berries were very small and the constant rain just made them mould in the fields.

We bought enough strawberries to make 3 jars of freezer jam but thats all.

Oh well, maybe next year - sigh!

Those photos are just about edible though, I wanted to reach into the monitor and just pull out a fresh strawberry - yum, yum.

I'm following up on the high speed interenet and it looks like we will be able to get it - yay!

Paul or Jan said...

The jam you gave us was so yummy, Janie! I've eaten half the jar already. It's perfect - not too sweet like the store-bought stuff.