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How to Use Six Pounds of Strawberries

Friday, June 29, 2012 11:00 AM

On Saturday, before heading to New Hampshire for a day full of visits with J's family, he and I spent about an hour at Jordan's Farm in Cape Elizabeth to pick strawberries. We were anxious to go because we don't know if we'll have another shared day off here in Maine (as opposed to next weekend, when we're going to Florida for a wedding) before strawberry season ends. When we finished picking, we thought we had about 4 pounds of berries, only for the scale to show more than 6 pounds.

So then we had to figure out what to do with that bounty. Some uses are obvious, but I had to spend some time researching online to decide on others. Six days after going berry-picking, we have only one applesauce jar* of strawberries still in our fridge. Here's what we did with the rest:

With Yogurt 

This is one of those basic, obvious uses for strawberries or pretty much any other fresh fruit. I don't like commercially available flavored yogurts, which are full of preservatives and waaaaayyy too much sugar, but I love plain yogurt with fruit and a little honey.


With Balsamic Vinegar, in a Salad


Strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a pairing almost as delicious as chocolate and peanut butter. I cut up strawberries and let them soak in vinegar for 20 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, then used some of the strawberry-infused vinegar to make a vinaigrette. The other components of the salad were greenleaf lettuce — it was what we received in our CSA, but spinach or another darker green would have been better — and some chevre we happened to have on hand. J has very predictable taste when it comes to salads, and the only thing this one needed to make him happier would be some candied pecans.


Strawberry Freezer Jam

I don't think I have the equipment necessary for traditional canning, which I find somewhat intimidating. Freezer jam supposedly maintains the fresh-fruit taste because it's not cooked, and it was extremely easy to make. I just followed the instructions from the Sure-Jell packet.


Freezing Whole Berries

I washed, dried and hulled these berries before carefully arranging them on a cookie sheet and placing them in the freezer like this. It keeps them from freezing into a solid mass, which makes it easier to pull out a few at a time for baking, smoothies or some other such purpose.


Rumtopf

Here I'm borrowing a traditional German method of preserving summer and fall fruits. What you do is mix two parts fruit to one part sugar (by weight), then submerge it in rum in a big jar or stoneware crock. I found this great container at the Falmouth Goodwill store and cleaned it out with boiling water.


As new fruits come into season, you just add layers of fruit, sugar and rum, ending in the fall with grapes and pears. Then you give it all a month or two more to marinate, and by Christmastime you have boozy fruit to serve over pound cake or ice cream, plus a fruity liquor to sip. 


I put this together on Tuesday night. The strawberries are floating, which means they're exposed to air, so I hope they'll sink as they soak up rum. By the next morning, the rum had leeched nearly all the color from the berries, so I have little vampire berries floating in there. The fruit won't be at its most attractive when it's time to serve it in six months, but I'm sure it will be delicious.


Strawberry Summer Cake

J and I have been eating this terrific cake for breakfast all week. The fruit makes it healthy, right? I like it with a mug of peppermint tea. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, here. I also considered making Deb's strawberries and cream biscuits, but the cake, rumtopf and two forms of frozen berries used up probably 4 pounds of fruit, so I didn't want to take up any more with baking. Now that we're almost out of strawberries, I'm sure we'll buy some more at the farmers market soon; the biscuits will just have to wait.


*Yes, an applesauce jar, but a salsa jar or a Mason jar will do just as well. If you haven't tried storing berries in glass, do it! I first encountered this tip a couple of years ago, and I'm still amazed at how much it increases the longevity of strawberries and other fruits. Tupperware also is better than the plastic cartons in which strawberries are sold, but glass is the best. It even helps a bit with raspberries, though in that case you need to make sure you don't stack them too deep, or they'll crush the ones on the bottom.

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