Monday, June 13, 2005

Strawberries

We went strawberry picking yesterday and gathered about 16 lbs of berries for preserves, ice cream, baking and eating. Perhaps I overstepped my bounds because even after fixing the preserves there is an incredible surplus of berries which sit on my counter near ready to turn. The preserves tasted absolutely wonderful on top of our homemade frozen custard.

For the most part the berries were small, but as I've discovered with strawberries bigger does nto necessarily mean better. Irregularly shaped sometimes in forms that varied from globular clusters to icicles these berries are not the fairest of the bunch, but each small package had such a wonderfully delicious and fragrant flavor so unlike the pithy and bland monsters that you find in plastic packages at the chain grocers. I found that the strawberries with brigh red and glossy tops were the tastiest. Biting down on one would put you in a strawberry infused heaven.

Strawberry Preserves

4 1/2 quarts of small ripe and firm strawberries, hulled
14 c of sugar
the juice from 4 lemons

Wash and hull strawberries. Combine berries with sugar in a large stainless steel pan; let stand for 3 to 4 hours. Bring strawberries to a boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice. Cook rapidly untilstrawberry mixture is clear and syrup is thick,about 15 minutes.
Pour mixture into a shallow pan and let stand,uncovered, for 12 hours. Ladle strawberry mixture into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes fifteen 8-ounce jars.

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