Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberry Days

Our strawberry patch has been putting out flavorful strawberries and we've been picking daily. We've been eating them raw, making strawberry Ice-cream, several batches of strawberry rhubarb crumble and a batch of strawberry rhubarb butter. But all good things come to an end so I found a little time to visit Candella's, a local U-Pick and farm-stand. I had not picked there before and was pleasantly surprised. After checking in we we're offered a ride in a muddy golf cart to the not-to distant field . The personable driver after learning that I planned on making jam, told me that they had 5 kinds of strawberries and told me where I could find the smaller more flavorful ones. One of the varieties was called Jewel.

We picked about 4 quarts and with those, along with the 4 quarts of strawberries that I was gifted, I immediately made a double batch of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate. It's really not that concentrated, but is nice mixed with seltzer or club soda. I like to take a jar of the mix and add ice and rum.

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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

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Strawberry Lemonade

4 qts strawberries, washed and hulled

4 cups lemon juice (I use bottled- 1 large bottle)

3 qts water
6 cups sugar


1.Puree strawberries. For a clearer lemonade, extract juice of strawberries with a juicer. (you can use a food processor and strain it)
2. Place strawberries in an 8 qt pot. Add lemon juice, water and sugar. Place mixture over medium heat and heat to 165 degrees, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.
3. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
4. Ladle hot juice into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace; seal.
5. Process in boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.
Yield: 6-7 qts.

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