Preserving Strawberries

berries

I love strawberries. Love, love, love them. Strawberries and asparagus are my two harbingers of spring. When you see them at the farmer’s markets, winter is over fo’ sho’. Like many of the most precious things in life, strawberries are fragile and temporary. Fresh strawberries are so far superior to their hard, dry grocery cousins that I will usually forego buying strawberries at the grocery and instead, wait until I can eat them to my heart’s content, fresh from the fields. But if you are eating (mostly) local as we are, how do you continue the strawberry love all year? There are lots of ways to preserve your berries so you have some wonderful flavor all winter long. Canning preserves, of course, is a great option, but don’t forget freezing and drying as well!

Your freezer is probably your most overlooked ally in reducing food waste and stalling the effects of time on your precious berries. Last year, we purchased a second freezer and we used it all summer to pack away berries, peaches, tomatoes, figs, corn, beans, okra–pretty much anything that was plentiful and at the peak of the season. Our freezer is running low now, but we’ve had a winter’s worth of wonderful meals and we’re getting ready to stock it up once again! With strawberries, you can make freezer jam or just freeze the whole berries for use later.

One of our favorite restaurants, Lucky 32, has a great Farm-to-Fork blog about preserving strawberries HERE. Check it out! I’m definitely trying the vinegar idea this year–not only does it sound delicious, it uses up those bruised berries that sometimes get put in the compost (well, not in our house–they usually end up in my mouth).

Here are some other ideas and resources:

Put ‘Em Up and Put ‘Em Up Fruit by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Put ‘Em Up was my canning and preserving bible last summer. My copy is so dog-eared, stained and sticky that it’s a surprise I can still turn the pages. One aspect I really like is that her jam recipes use Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which is a bit more expensive, but allows you to decrease the amount of sugar you use without compromising the texture of the jam. I just ordered her new fruit book and can’t wait to try the recipes. Strawberries are so fresh and sweet, why mess them up with more sugar than needed? I love this book so much more than the Ball canning books because the recipes are creative and absolutely spot on with measurements. Also, she includes other preserving methods, such as drying and freezing, so if you don’t can, you can still find lots of useful ideas.

Consider buying a dehydrator. This is my summer project. Have you ever had dried strawberries??? Holy moly! They are amazing and last a good long while. Wonderful on cereal, in granola or just as a snack–nature’s candy, indeed! You can dry strawberries in your oven as well–just takes a little more attention on your part, but completely do-able!

Make fruit leather. Once you make homemade fruit leather, you will never touch that pre-packaged stuff from the grocery again. And you kids probably won’t want to either. We made homemade strawberry fruit leather last spring (read about it HERE)and we all agreed it was so strawberry-delicious that we needed to make more. Immediately. Except then, we ate all our strawberries. Oh, well, we will try again this year!

I’ll be sharing more of our berry recipes as we head into high season! I just need to remember to sock some away for November and December, when we are feeling deprived of fresh berries!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

rhubarb

This is a repost from last spring because this pie is so wonderful!

I’ll just admit it. I am not so much a pie maker. Perfect crust tends to elude me, and the tops of my pies are usually cattywampus and slightly caved in. That’s ok with me, though–as long as they taste good. And the ice cream doesn’t seem to mind, either.

This pie is the last in my experiments with rhubarb. It was sticky, sweet, tart and perfect with vanilla ice cream (or soy cream). It puts to shame those imposter pies that beckon to you in the grocery with their too sweet filling and their bland crusts. I think strawberry rhubarb pie is just like spring–fresh, slightly awkward, and gone too soon. Yum.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (makes one pie)

  • 2 pie crusts from your favorite recipe
  • 3 cups fresh, organic or pesticide-free strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups washed and chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg white
  • Organic turbinado sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix berries, rhubarb, sugar, flour, tapioca, cinnamon, zest and lemon juice. Toss well and set aside.
  3. In a 9″ pie plate, unroll one of the pie crusts. Pat into the plate. Pour the berry mixture into the pie crust.
  4. Cut the butter into cubes and sprinkle on top of the berries.
  5. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg wash.
  6. Top with the second pie crust. Crimp the edges of the pie and trim excess crust.
  7. Brush the egg wash over the pie crust. Cut slits in the top to vent steam. Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar.
  8. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 50 minutes more.
  9. Let cool and serve.

Rainbow Peanut Noodles

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Can I confess to you that I am a Pinterest freak? I mean, yes, I realize that Pinterest features a lot of made up stuff that most of us will never do because we are busy having actual lives, but really. I’m like a moth to a flame. Occasionally, I will actually try to tackle a craft/home improvement/gardening/deep cleaning project, but mostly I just like to look at the pretty pictures. Guilty pleasures, I know. Sometimes those photos are accurate portrayals of what recipes will really look like, but often “they’ve had work done.”

Not so with this recipe. When I saw a photo of this dish from Give Me Some Oven, I thought no way will the real dish look so vibrant and lovely. I was all prepared for something less than stellar, and was pleasantly surprised when I ended up with something that looked like the photo! Thank you, Give Me Some Oven! I think it is one of my new favorite dishes. Healthy, vegetarian, easy to make and so darn pretty to look at, this recipe is a winner all around. In fact, the Give Me Some Oven site is full of rainbow recipes and they all look amazing so check out her site and get cooking!

The original recipe is HERE. I did some make some changes. I used my Spicy Peanut Sauce instead of the peanut sauce in the recipe. Mine is not sweet and has more kick to it. If you are making this dish for little ones (or family with a sweet tooth), I would use the original peanut sauce recipe. I did make it and it’s delicious, but I like more sass and less sweet–just a personal preference. I also used some fresh, local vegetables like local early garlic, local spring onion and sugar snap peas instead of edamame. You could really use whatever you want as long as you balance out the colors! I also used fresh rice noodles instead of pasta and that worked well, so if you’re gluten free, no worries!

The trick to this dish is to do all of your vegetable prep ahead. Once you start cooking, you have about 5-7 minutes until dinner is on the table, so have everything ready to go before you heat your pan. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Rainbow Peanut Noodles (Serves 3-4)

Spicy Peanut Sauce (makes about 1 cup)

  • 4 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha chili paste
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2cup olive oil (you could also use peanut oil)
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper

Rainbow Vegetables

  • 12 ounces fresh rice noodles (or pasta)
  • 1/2 head of organic purple cabbage, washed, drained and shredded
  • 2 small bulbs of fresh, organic spring garlic (or 1 garlic clove), minced
  • 1 pint fresh sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, washed, trimmed and sliced very thin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Optional toppings: peanuts, sesame seeds, chopped scallions
  1. Combine all ingredients for peanut sauce in a blender or the bowl of an immersion blender. Blend together until creamy and set aside.
  2. Heat water for the noodles. When water boils, cook the rice noodles for 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium high heat.
  4. Saute the rainbow vegetables for 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently. Turn off heat.
  5. Add noodles and 1/2 of peanut sauce to the vegetables in the pan and stir to combine.
  6. Serve immediately with toppings of your choice!