Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Strawberry Fields Forever
Our front yard is very small as far as yards go. It's just three raised beds, each about 4 feet by 15 feet. In the top bed, we have mostly native, perennial flowers. In the second bed, strawberries and three hostas. In the bottom bed, there are herbs, radishes, carrots, and nasturtiums.
Our strawberries have hit their prime. On Saturday, I picked as many as I saw, and got a little over two pounds. I was thrilled and amazed! What a great yield for a garden that started as eight little plants a couple of years ago.
I used one pound to make homemade ice cream for Father's Day. Along with the vanilla and chocolate I've been making and storing for the occasion, everyone loved it. But I'm not a big fan of strawberry ice cream in general, and I had other plans for the berries. I just had to wait for more to come in.
I wanted to make something that would sustain us long term, not something that we gulped down and quickly forgot. And so, I eased back into canning and made some delicious jam. I figured I'd have to wait quite a while to get enough berries to make the jam. I thought I'd have to clear out the whole patch. But Saturday evening, there were loads of dark red berries where they had been pink the day before. We got another 2.5 pounds in just a few minutes.
Nearly an hour later, we had 12 cups and 2 pints of jam. This (plus the 8 jars we already have in the pantry), should keep us clear through to next year. Given the price of sugar and the fact that I put eight cups of sugar in it, all of this jam cost us about $7. The same amount of jam for the store brand costs $42, which gives us a savings of $35. Not too shabby! But still, I hope to be able to bring the cost and the sugar down in the next recipe. It's way sweeter than the jam to which we're accustomed.
We still have a ton of berries left on the plants, so I have to find more recipes. There will definitely be strawberry shortcake, plain strawberries, and perhaps even strawberry crepes. And, of course, we'll freeze some.