Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strawberries--firsts versus seconds

This isn't meant to be a post about what came in the share this week, more of a reflection on things we manage to do with some strawberries.

Today I picked up a quart of 'firsts' and a lot of seconds.  

The firsts are the nice looking ones they look and taste amazing, right at their peak.  We eat them.  Last week the pint didn't last for the 5 minute drive home.  This week we got a quart, they've made it home (mostly because we ate enormous amount at dinner before picking up the share) and we're munching on them whenever we walk past.  I can't imagine anything else that I'd want to do with these, but I've heard that other people use them on cereal, in yogurt, or on top of ice cream.  I don't think cake-type applications are the way to go because the flavor might get lost.  Really though, I've chatted with a bunch of people and we all say, "eat them like a pig-hog before someone else can touch them!"

The seconds aren't as attractive and you might not want to try eating them.  They might have a bad spot, they might be a bit overripe, or they might have gotten squished by some friends.  I cut off the top and any parts that were gray (gray food = not good eats) and tossed them in a pot.  My plan: heat them up a bit until they're pretty much juiced, then run them through some cheesecloth to take out the seeds.

They'll go back in the pot with some pectin until they come to a boil.  Then I'll add some sugar and bring them back to a boil.  Finally, I'll put them in some canning jars and boil them again...  Jam for the year.  I'll probably add some lemon juice for acid.

A recipe:

3qt strawberries

1 packet of pectin

8 c sugar

Chop tops and bad spots (really really bad spots, over-ripe = more sugar) off the berries and throw them in a pot.  Bring it to a boil until the berries are broken down into a thick liquid.

Strain to remove the seeds.  If any of the flesh get caught try to push it through your strainer.

Put it all back in the pot and add the pectin.  Bring it to a boil.  

Add the sugar (maybe some lemon juice) and bring back to a hard boil for a minute.  

While all of this is going on prep about 3.5 pints worth of canning jars by sterilizing them in boiling water along with their 2-part lids.

Pull the jars from the water and pour the jam into them.  Seal the lids until they're tight but not 'super tight' and drop them back into your boiling water.  Keep the jam at a rolling boil for 5 minutes (0-1000 ft).

Let them dry and then remove the screw-top while leaving the sealed top.  Check for seal by turning them upside down.  Any that didn't immediately seal:  eat or give to friends and tell them to eat immediately.

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