Happy Summer Solstice!
Whenever I think of summer, I think of sweet, little strawberries that can be picked and enjoyed right in the fields. Strawberry smoothies, pies and desserts all scream summer time! But here in the Mayernik Kitchen, we like to enjoy strawberries year-round and that is why we harvest in mid-June, and preserve in a number of ways to enjoy throughout the year.
This year was a little different then past years.
We have been preserving the summer bounty of many fruits but I would say strawberry preserving started about 4-5 years ago. I think the first time we preserved it might have been a few quarts and each year we gradually increased the quantity to preserve.
I am lucky enough to work at Abma’s Farm that grow strawberries so I might have over indulged in our 2018 strawberry purchase. But how could I pass up strawberries growing just 4.5 miles from my home, harvested the morning I brought them home, by farmers I know! It is by far the most perfect situation to be in.
Preserving the Bounty
So when I ordered my 80 quarts of strawberries the day before they were harvested, I thought I would be bringing home around 80 pounds to preserve. Well the first quart I weighed came in at 1.11 lbs – that’s well over 1.5 pounds per quart on average. There was nothing I could do but enjoy the bounty and get to work.
My first step was to freeze the amount we are comfortable with for the year, which is around 75 lbs. Luckily, we have a chest freezer where we keep all our frozen summer fruit. We leave the tops on the strawberries because these first few frozen batches (and by first few I mean about 20 cookie sheets at a time in the freezers) are for smoothies so that extra little bit of nutrition from the stem is perfect!
My next preserving method was to make jam. I have made jam a few times in the past but I wanted to really get into it this year, so what better way to master this skill then now! A majority of the recipes I used were from Food in Jars and are small batches so I was in the kitchen quite often, stirring a hot pot of jam.
2 – 4 oz. jars
1 – 8 oz. jar
- Honey Strawberry Ginger Preserves
4 – 4 oz. jars
2 – 8 oz. jars
4 - 4 oz. jars
1 – 8 oz. jar
7 – 8 oz. jars
Up next, we then dehydrated 12 quarts equaling 16.91 lbs of strawberries. We love to snack on dried strawberries and they are so much better then store bought because these are JUST strawberries. No added preservatives or flavors.
And of course, we had to make our #mkuntapped herbal beer of the week strawberry based and while we were on the alcohol creations with our strawberries, we went ahead and made an infused vodka. We even used Tito’s, which is gluten free for our gluten free friends (you all know who you are).
After all of this, and of course enjoying them fresh and sharing a few quarts with neighbors and family, we had a remaining 6 quarts left that were almost two weeks old so we had to act fast. We ended up removing the tops (and saving them to freeze to enjoy in smoothies) and froze whole strawberries with no tops to use in future jam recipes. I know I will be so excited some December to pull some strawberries from the freezer to make a nice summer time jam while the snow falls outside!
I am so thankful once again, that I could purchase local, homegrown strawberries to preserve. Strawberry season is ending as we are heading into blueberry, peach and raspberry season, but if you could get your hands on some fresh, local berries, please preserve some. I know you won’t be disappointed!
Total Quarts Purchased: 80
Total Quarts Preserves and Enjoyed Fresh: 80
Total Strawberries put into compost: 3 (yes you read that right – only three strawberries did not make the cut)
Total Pounds: 120.34