As I have said, Ohio strawberries are a treasure and one of the most perfect and delicious foods in the world. Here are some tips regarding your berries.
1. You’re better off to pick your own if you can. They’re cheaper than the pre-picked ones (half the price usually) and you can pick the very best berries. The pick your own price at my local patch is just $1.25/lb. It was a mere $21 for all of the berries in that picture. $21!
2. If you’re not going to use them right away leave them in your pickin’ container (see image above) or put them in some kind of bowl. Drape a tea towel over it and stick it in the fridge. DO NOT wash your berries and then stick them in the fridge. No, no, no! And you really don’t want them to sit too long. Only pick what you can deal with or eat over just 2-3 days.
3. Only wash your berries right before you are about to eat them or jam them or freeze them or whatever. Again, never wash them and stick them back in your fridge. They absorb the water and lose a lot of their taste. Seriously. Don’t do it.
4. You can easily hull the berries with a small paring knife. Just stick the tip of the knife in under the green top and pop it off. Easy peasy. (Note: chickens and goats LOVE the berry tops).
5. For jamming – you really do want to use the best berries. Over ripe berries are not as good so choose wisely. Strawberries cook down quite a bit so if you’re doing a 2:1 fruit to sugar ratio (no pectin) you can expect roughly 32 oz. of jam for 2lbs of berries. Not a huge yield but the taste is unbeatable.
6. For freezing – weigh them and be sure to label the bag! I use a vacuum sealer and it makes a big difference. They are a good investment. I weigh in 1, 2, and 3 pound increments so that I can have the right amount of berries for whatever I want to make later on down the road – jam, smoothies, a pie, some daiquiris.
I use two different freezing strategies. For jam berries I freeze them whole or halved. I just dump them into the labeled bag, vacuum seal, and stick in the freezer. If I want the berries to stay in tact for a future project then I flash freeze them first. In that case I weigh them and dump them out onto a baking sheet. I stick ’em in the freezer for about an hour or so and then I put them in the freezer bags. This will help them maintain their shape when you defrost.
As of now I have made 5 batches of various strawberry jams and I have roughly 20lbs of berries in the fridge. I’m hoping the strawberries hang on for a few more days so I can get back to the patch at least one more time. It is some work but come December I’m going to be glad I have all those berries in the freezer. Mmm!
Now go out and pick some berries!!