Monday, June 20, 2011

18 pounds of strawberries

My family and I went to the Strawberry Madness Festival (at Johnson's Farm in Hobart, IN) on Saturday and we bought 10 buckets of berries. And I want more. I know, makes no sense. But I get like this in the summer because I HATE the produce in grocery stores - especially the strawberries (prematurely picked, barely any nutrients, chemicals added, I wonder who picked the fruit? Was it a child?). I do remember Alton Brown, from Foodnetwork, doing a show on strawberries and him saying that mass produced strawberries are groomed for size and shipping - not flavor.
I cannot afford to buy everything organic like I would prefer. So I take advantage of the farmer's markets/local farms/our garden and stock up over the summer.

This is what my mom and I did with our 18 pounds of berries:
  • Sorted and quickly rinsed the berries (Be careful! They get waterlogged easily - so rinse before hulling)
  • Removed stems and caps
  • This is when Alton Brown swears by an acidic bath to prevent discoloration. Lemon water is common but he used red wine (1 bottle of red wine for every two pints of berries.) Discoloration doesn't bother me but I will try this and let you know how it goes.
  • Dumped 2 cups of berries into a bowl, then sprinkled 1 TBSP of sugar over them. Repeated this until the bowl was full. This prep was for our homemade sorbets, ice creams, cheesecake topping, etc. You are not normally supposed to add sugar to berries when freezing them long term. However, we want these berries sweetened and will use them within the week. To freeze long term, unsweetened, simply fill up a baking sheet full of strawberries and freeze until firm (a.k.a flash freeze). When thawed, they will be dark in color and be soft but will still taste way better than prematurely picked fruit. I use whole frozen berries in smoothies instead of ice cubes.
  • Let the berries sit for at least an hour

  • Measured out two cups of berries per ziplock bag (The sweet strawberry juice sitting at the bottom of the bowl is our FAVORITE part. Out of all of the berries, we collected about two cups of this juice. SAVE IT! GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE! We put a few teaspoons in our iced tea, it was amazing. You can add it to: milk (the best strawberry milk EVER), strawberry shakes, whip cream, pancake batter (or pour it over your pancakes instead of maple syrup)...possibilities are endless!)
  • Gently squished them to extract a little more juice (Mason's favorite part)
  • Stacked the bags in the freezer. This way they will freeze flat and you can just crack off what you need.

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