Strawberries are late this year in the Willamette Valley around Eugene, OR. For that matter, so are all the other berries and stone fruits. We have been enjoying hot, sunny mornings u-picking strawberries at various farms along the Willamette: Bear Fruit in Harrisburg; Hansen’s fruit farm in Creswell; Still Point Farm in Veneta. Berries have been from good to better quality. Still, none of those exquisite, dark hyper-strawberry flavored gems that one can find every few years when the combination of moisture and heat has been just right.
We have picked enough berries to freeze 30 quarts, jam 30 cups and make several pies, galettes and shortcakes. This will allow approx. 2 ½ quarts of frozen berries and 2 ½ cups of jam to be consumed every month until next berry season. I think for our family that is enough. Especially when I add in all the other fruits we will be processing. I try not to overdue the amount I put up so that nothing goes unused. Still, I try to factor in extras for gifts. There’s nothing like giving some tasty result of your labors to a friend or relative so they can, as Greg Brown says, “taste a little bit of the summer…”.
Also, prices have not been bad…very affordable in fact, even organic. No artificially inflated food prices when you buy local and support local agriculture.
1.) Freezing berries for later juicing:
I like to freeze strawberries and other small, fragile berries (raspberries, gooseberries, currants,etc.) for later juicing with other fruit. I will toss a quart or two of these frozen berries on top of the primary fruit during processing (peaches, pears, apples, white grapes, etc.). There is no need to defrost the berries. It is best to place them on top so they thaw slowly and drain through the other fruit giving a good blending of flavors.
2.) Juicing strawberries
Strawberry juice is very thick and silky. It is lower in sugar than when fresh and can be sweetened during processing by adding your choice of sweetener to the fruit in the basket prior to steaming. Although strawberries are very juicy, it takes quite a few berries to produce enough juice for consumption. For this reason, I like to use the juice as a base for other products:
a.) Jelly is easily made from strawberry juice and can be made in small batches throughout the year if you want to cut down on processing time. I use Pomona low-methoxyl citrus pectin when I make jams and jellies. With Pomona you can make the jam/jelly as sweet as you prefer (including no sugar) as the setting process is not dependent on sugar. For jelly making, I suggest not sweetening the fruit in the basket before processing but rather to sweeten when you make the jelly.
b.) Syrup (a flavored simple syrup actually) can be made from the juice by adding sugar in a 1:1 ratio and bringing briefly to a boil to dissolve sugar. Do not overboil or the syrup will crystalize. Let this cool, then bottle and store in fridge. This can then be added to seltzer water for a very refreshing drink. This syrup can be used in mixed drinks as well (alcohol).
Well, I hope folks are getting out and enjoying the start of the season. As always please let me know if you have any questions regarding the juicer and its uses: 800-450-6081
Take Care and Good Juicing