Taking Another Look at Strawberries
Strawberries are fresh and ready for picking. Locally-grown strawberries are softer and juicier than those flown in, and should be processed within a day or so of picking.
Lakeview Farms opened to the public for berry picking two weeks ago. Berries are at their peak for the next few days but picking is estimated to run through June 14.
The strawberries are the Cabot variety. They are large berries and softer than those typically found in the grocery store. The strawberries are a jewel-red in color and very plentiful on the plant. I picked just over 10 pounds in less than 30 minutes. The berries run $1.90 per pound.
According to Lakeview’s website, Cabot berries are not ideal for canning jam, because most of the berry dissolves into the jam, leaving it with a more jelly-like consistency. However, I have had great success in years past making strawberry freezer jam with the Cabot berries.
Freezer jam is simple to make and promises a taste of fresh berries even in the winter months. Crushed berries, sugar and pectin are combined and put into freezer safe containers. The jam can be stored in the freezer for up to one year or the refrigerator for three weeks, according to Kraft Foods, the makers of Sure Jell and Certo.
For the past 20 years, I have experimented with all types of pectin and processes. For jams and jellies, either canned or freezer varieties, liquid pectin such as Certo produces the most consistent results. The instructions in the Certo box are clear, concise and very simple to follow.
The Cabot strawberries work well in most dessert applications, including pie. The following Strawberry Pie recipe was adapted from Strawberry Pie II found on allrecipes.com. I was looking for a pie that did not rely on pre-packaged strawberry glaze or flavored gelatin. The recipe I found fit the criteria, but I found my first attempts to be too sweet, masking the berry flavor.
By adding more berries and reducing the recommended sugar and water, I ended up with a concentrated strawberry flavor that was not too sweet. The berry flavor shined. The pie disappeared within hours.
Because of Cabot’s ability to dissolve a bit as it is crushed, makes the berry a fine addition to beverages. Mojitos are traditionally made with mint, lime, sugar, rum and sparkling water. Adding strawberries gives the cocktail a refreshing twist.
- 1 pie crust, baked and cooled
- 28 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup water
Crush 12 ounces strawberries and combine with sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling strawberry sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
Continue to cook the mixture until it boils and thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Brush a thin coat of the mixture on the baked pie shell. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Arrange remaining berry halves in the pie shell and pour the crushed berry mixture over the berries in the pie shell. Refrigerate several hours before serving.
- 4 whole, ripe strawberries, hulled
- 4 mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice, to taste
- 1-2 ounces light rum
- 12 ounces club soda or other sparkling water
- Ice cubes
Place berries, mint leaves and sugar into the bottom of a glass and muddle. Add lime juice, rum, and club soda. Stir and pour over ice.