Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Final Strawberry Tally for 2010

Over the course of a couple of weeks, we picked 96 pounds of strawberries from our garden. (Kansas Dad spent a lot of time on his knees picking strawberries.) This number does not include any that our friends picked and took home or the ones the kids ate right off the vine or out of the bucket before they made it inside. (Seriously, once First Daughter grabbed one of the buckets, plopped herself down on the log and munched away until they were all gone!) It also doesn't count the ones we lost when Kansas Dad was out of town and I didn't even try to keep up with the picking. I would guess we could have almost doubled the total picked, if we had wanted. (We like being able to invite friends to come pick berries.)

(We have a lot of strawberry plants. Kansas Dad planted 150 last spring, about half of which were June-bearing, I think. Many of those put out shoots that he stapled with garden staples so they would put down their own roots. We'll be planting more next year or so and I'll try to post then on what we learned about strawberry plant placement for maximum ease in picking.)

So what did we do with all of them? We ate a great many (yum!) and froze quite a bit (over 40 cups, mostly hulled and whole; we've already been digging those out for smoothies).

We also used a bunch right away:
Then, there was the canning. I'm planning a separate post on what we learned about canning strawberries and a few tips, but here's a picture of all our jars (minus one we already gave away):

    I particularly like that pretty strawberry jelly on the end:

    Here's what we have (all recipes from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving):
    • 17.5 pints strawberry jam (the original quick recipe, some with liquid pectin and a variation with some lemon peel so it's "lemony");
    • 6 pints strawberry jelly;
    • 11 pints quick strawberry lemon marmalade (We love this recipe. Next year we'll be more ambitious and try some of the traditional marmalade which should be more caramelized.);
    • 3.5 pints strawberry syrup (for pancakes and waffles and other such yummy fare);
    • 2 pints strawberry sauce (for ice cream and other desserts - very yummy, but a bit harder to make than the quick jams with pectin because I had to stir boiling strawberry goo for 15 minutes. It's a good thing we have one of those plastic mitts to protect my poor hands - I still had to switch hands every few minutes because they'd get too hot!); and
    • 3.25 pints maple strawberry smooch (a very good dessert topping option for those who prefer maple syrup to sugar or who happen to live somewhere that has a lot of maple syrup. You know who you are.).
    Some of the pints I tallied are actually canned in half pint jars. We have more than enough strawberry jams, jellies and treats for the year and plenty to give away, too.

    I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Many of the recipes can be found inside the Ball boxes of pectin (including the marmalade recipe), but the back of the book has an extensive "tutorial" on canning with lots of tips and explanations that make following the recipes a lot easier. There are also a bunch of other recipes (many of which can be made with a simple water bath rather than a pressure canner) that we want to try with tomatoes and other produce. If you have excess garden or CSA produce, you're sure to find something intriguing to try.

    Now I can save this post to read when the harvest gets overwhelming next year. I'll remember how wonderful all these treats were throughout the year and how satisfying it feels to look at that table full of jars! (We've also been even more inspired to get some other berry plants in. Perhaps we'll be able to plant some next year.)

    For those that are wondering, we still have a few fruits on the ever-bearing plants, but it's not enough to even make it into the house.


    1. Wow!!! What a strawberry harvest! I am amazed at all you've done with it. I wish I could have come pick some. Well, I know where to go for strawberry recipes if we have enough strawberries next year!

    2. H of B, I thought of you while I was reading through the Ball book because it has a few salsa recipes and I wondered if you might like them better than the one you tried last year.

      Maybe we could arrange a trade: some of our strawberry jam for something from your garden this year?

    3. Actually, we have the Ball book(love it!) and used one of the salsa recipes, which I canned. We have one pint jar left, by the way. It was the tomato sauce recipe that Dan found on the internet that was not that great. Way too sweet! I used it all anyway. Definitely will have to look in there for a better recipe.

      Hey, I'm up for a trade! If things go well, we'll have a ton of green beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and hopefully lots of watermelon and cantaloupe! I'm planning to can salsa again and freeze a lot of the other stuff. I want to try making some baby food out of some of the veggies. I was going to puree whatever (beans, squash) and freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes in a bag, so I could take out one at a time. I could make some of those for you if you want.

    4. H of B, we will definitely have to talk once our gardens are producing. Kansas Dad has managed to get quite a few things planted but some of it was a bit late so we're not sure how well it will do.

      Thanks for the offer of baby food, but knowing me, we'll wait quite a while to introduce solids so I'd rather make some myself once we're ready for them. That way they won't have to stay in the freezer so long. Have you made baby food in the past? I've always made almost all of ours and am always surprised at how easy it is (especially once they're a little older and you just squish some of whatever everyone else is eating!).

    5. I have not made baby food to freeze before. I usually used some jarred food, some easily squishable food like bananas from about 6-9 months and then after that, fed them mostly what we were having. In that 6-9 month period, I bought mostly the cereals and then baby food with meat and veggies. But now with the garden, it seems silly not to use some of it for baby food. Since I usually start them at 6 months, that is only 3 months away! Yeah, I guess for you, it could be 7 months or longer from now, so that is a long time in the freezer.

      I made some with our snowpeas that got too big to eat pods and all. The kids and I podded them, and then I steamed then, pureed them, and froze the thick puree in ice cube trays. They popped right out and now I have 25 little pea cubes!

    6. I love making our baby food!

      You can mix it with baby cereal to ease the taste a little at first so 25 pea cubes could last you a long time.

      I haven't actually frozen baby food in quite a while. I'd just smash what we were eating (or a little of something that wasn't seasoned) and give that. I think I'll try it again, though, with this one, so I don't have to make sure there's something on the table baby can eat.

      I have a while before it's an issue, though.


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