Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

The local strawberry fields are open for the season.  We have had a terribly rainy season so hopefully the strawberries will still thrive and not mold over.

I picked three berries yesterday from my own strawberry patch.  They went directly into my mouth and were yummy.  I am hoping to get enough ripened at the same time so I can make a batch of strawberry jam from my own berries.  I have two garden boxes going with strawberries so I have my fingers crossed.

Strawberry Jam

I like the directions that Pick Your Own offers because they have lots of pictures and are very descriptive.  Strawberry  Jam is a great first canning project.  It comes out well and even if it does not set well it will be good on toast.

Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

One of my favorite canning sites is Food in Jars.  The writer teaches canning in the Philadelphia and offers some great recipes.  Here is her web site and recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Butter  

Strawberry Rhubarb Butter
makes 2 pints or 4 half pints
4 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups mashed strawberries
1 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 cups sugar

Combine the rhubarb, berries, the split vanilla bean and a cup of the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir until the sugar has drawn some liquid out of the berries and then turn the heat onto medium low.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until the pieces of rhubarb and strawberries have broken down. At this point, reduce the heat even further and let the butter simmer over very low heat.
When the butter has reduced to about half its original volume, taste it. Adjust the sugar to taste, adding up to another half cup. Cook until the sugar has dissolved into the butter. Remove the butter from the heat. Fish the vanilla bean pieces out and put them aside.
Fill your prepared jars, wipe the rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (starting time when water returns to a boil).When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check the seals.
This butter will keep 6 to 9 months if stored in a cool, dark place. It is good to eat right away, though.

This one looks really good and I want to try it if my rhubarb keeps putting off good shoots.

Orange Rhubarb Butter
makes one pint (you can double the recipe, but you may have to increase cooking time)
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
Combine the three ingredients in a wide pan (I used a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temperature to low and let it gently bubble, stirring every five minutes or so. If it’s sticking to the bottom of the pot badly, lower the heat a bit more. Cook like this for at least an hour, until butter has reduced in volume and has turned a deep, rosy color.
Prepare one pint or two half pint jars. When butter is sufficiently cooked down, ladle it into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for fifteen minutes.
When processing time has elapsed, remove jars from canner and place them on a towel-lined countertop. When jars have cooled enough to handle, remove the rings and test the seals by gently grasping the lids and lifting the jars. If the lids hold fast, your seals are good. If your jars do not seal, store product in refrigerator and consume within a month.

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