Preparing the first flat for jamming and freezing. So simple, just cut the green tops off (and any soft bits) and rinse! If freezing, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour before bagging so they don't stick together or burn.
What do I do if I can't make it to the beach or a lake on a beautiful sunny Sunday? I go to the Strawberry U-pick with my love and then proceed to process 24 pounds of strawberries! At least that's what I did on this particular Sunday.
Where I live we have the wonderful gift of being able to access locally grown, unsprayed fruit- and I intend to take full advantage of it! It takes a little time yes- but with good company and dancing tunes playing it becomes a lot of fun! Besides, I now have a ton of local, organic ( & CHEAP) strawberries in my freezer (to keep my rhubarb company) for making smoothies, salsa, and other deliciousness long after the season has passed! Strawberries don’t ripen after they’re picked. That’s why berries shipped from elsewhere can’t match the quality and taste of those locally grown. We went to Hick's Berry Patch, a family owned and operated U- pick in Midgic, NB. They're so friendly and have a fantastic crop- but the season is nearly over! If you're no where near Sackville, NB where I live, ask around at your local farmer's market for similar gems.
Strawberries deliver a ton of vitamin C and are a good source of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese, a mineral that maintains healthy bones and helps regulate blood sugar. Their also well know for having a many antioxidants- especially anthocyanins that may help dilate arteries and prevent the build-up of fatty plaque and protect brain cells by fighting free-radical damage and reducing inflammation.
In addition to freezing the berries whole, I also made some jam! Jamming takes me back to summer kitchen fun with my mama- I can't believe she used to make huge cauldrons full! However, she and most other jammers use a ton of refined sugar in the process- and anyone who knows me can hear me saying that this is a huge no no! Not only do you lose the flavour of the berries and gain a ton of calories, but the nutritional value becomes diminished. The solution? This magnificent pectin I've discovered! Pomona's Universal Pectin is amhaaazing- no sugar or preservatives plus super simple recipes for low sugar jams & jellies. My jam contains only berries, apple juice concentrate and pectin. So now, we can enjoy jam on pancakes, toast and in cocktails (yes cocktails) without the sugar guilt!
Does the fact that I'm a 27 year old jammer concern me? Not really. Being a young person who makes and preserves her own food makes me feel like a renegade! I save money, help my environment and local economy, have fun and stay healthy. And seriously, to make 11 jars of jam only took 4 hours - including picking a ton of berries, enjoying a scenic drive with my love, and waiting for those babies to pop (audibly) their lids. One morning to enjoy a treat- and share as presents- well into the winter (only because there are just two people in my house and I hid the bounty!)
I used 12 cups of strawberries, 2 cans of organic apple juice concentrate, 6 teaspoons of Pomona's pectin and 11 250 mL jars- which means this project cost me about $22 all said and done. $2 for homemade, local & organic jam? I'll take that :)
I really encourage you to get out and enjoy the summer's bounty however you can!
Only by decreasing the amount of chemicals and unnatural products we consume will we enjoy healthy minds and bodies and a healthier world for us all.
If you have your own recipes or tales of how you've become a food renegade please share them with me <3
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.