I had a particularly successful trip to the farmers’ market today. The weather was cool and cloudy, no rain. After a nice strong cup of coffee, I headed over to my favorite stalls. Here are some of the results:
From upper left: asparagus, padron peppers, coffee, Dakota black popcorn polenta, potato donuts, semi-soft goat cheese, #2 porcinis, and tiny Tuscano summer squash.
Nice haul. But the true treasure was a 16 lb bag of #2 and discard strawberries from a Hmong family’s stall. The farmer didn’t want to charge me but I insisted on at least $5 dollars. She finally relented. I got the asparagus there as well. Consistently fresh and tasty.
The berries look awesome here. And, they were. Very juicy and smelled strongly of strawberry. Each one had some bruises and a few some mold. So, I rinsed them off and filled the colander for the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer. No need to remove the hulls.
Meanwhile, I had the water pan coming to a boil with the lid on for efficiency. Here are a couple of videos demonstrating proper boiling level:
The furious boil is too much and runs the risk of boiling the pan dry and causing damage.
This steady boil is just right for steam juicing with the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer.
The berries are ready to go on the juice kettle and onto the boiling water pan. After just a few minutes steam starts to rise through the fruit. I set a timer to 30 minutes and put our kitchen leprechaun Bill O’Murray on board to keep a watch on things. Bill showed up on Ground Hog’s Day and has been a lot of help in the kitchen. He looks so familiar. . .
After about 15 minutes, the berries are starting to shrink. There is about 2.5 quarts of juice in the juice kettle waiting to be drawn off. It’s best to draw off juice at this time so that you avoid the possibility of juice dripping down the funnel into the water pan. With the sanitized canning jar safe in a stainless steel pot with handle, I draw the juice off. Here I have put the jar on a stool that brings the height close to that of the stove.
The yield is 1.25 gallons (5 quarts) of rich, clear strawberry juice. After letting the steam sit for another hour, I got 1 more quart making the yield 1.5 gallons. This cooler juice will be put in the fridge and used within a week or so. I have sanitized jars (hot dishwasher with only jars), lids, and bands (boiled 5 minutes and left in hot water til use). The next step would be to water bath or use an atmospheric steam canner according to USDA guidelines. The half gallon jars are not recommended by USDA for steam canning, so you’d need to have your juice all in quart jars. Five quarts will fit nicely in a steam canner. It is nice to know that the USDA recommends using the steam canner now after having conducted rigorous tests for safety. Here is a blog post all about it:
Is steam canning safe?
I will be making strawberry wine from this batch of delicious juice. Keep an eye out for a detailed post with recipe and technical information.