Saturday, May 18, 2013

Loaded For Bear...Berries, That Is!

During strawberry season, I used to go to a local "Pick Your Own" farm further out in the country.  I'd make a day of it.  Picking several gallons of berries, cleaning and freezing enough to last us through the winter.

Last year though, we planted our first ever strawberries in our raised beds.

I wish I'd known how easy they were to grow.  I'd have done this years ago!

These are Seascape. 




I bought these as they sounded like they were one of the more heat tolerant berry's out there.  I followed the recommended instructions for the first year of growth, pinching back all the blooms for the first few months.




They are as advertised.  
Seascape strawberry plants yield large, juicy, well-shaped berries with superb flavor, and they bear fruit over a long season. It’s one of the most productive and disease-resistant everbearing varieties yet! Shallow roots make them ideal for growing in containers as well as in the garden.
I personally don't think that they're the sweetest berries on the planet but a little sugar (or Splenda) goes a long way.  SM's been adding them to his protein shakes every morning.  (He got me to taste one of his shakes the other day.  Oh, Yuck.  A perfect waste of good strawberries if you ask me...@;)

We've been picking every other day now for over a week, harvesting about a quart or two as we went along.  Perfect for fresh eating.

The berries seemed to be loving the hot weather we had last week because suddenly everything kicked into high gear and I was hard pressed to leave for work on time the past few mornings! 

I've taken to picking daily now and freezing the last few batches as there's only so many berries a person can eat in a day!

Today was the most I've picked so far in one day.  About a gallon and a half.




I tell you, the sun can't come up soon enough in the morning right now.  If things don't slow down, I'll be getting up at 4am just to fit all my morning chores in.




It's a nice problem to have for sure.  Hopefully, this is just a big push and things will settle down to a more manageable rate.

Anybody got a favorite jam recipe I can take advantage of?

5 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a bunch o' berries! I started our first strawberries last year (got Mom's cast-aways) and this year there are TONS of baby berries! I just have to WAIT now....and hope every other living thing doesn't beat me to the harvest.

    BTW, do you have to wait until they are totally ripe before picking them, or can you pick them a little early & let them ripen on the counter top?

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    1. I am discovering that there is a fine line between ripe and rot. I've never tried to ripen them inside...I think the berry will start to dehydrate and wrinkle up. I pick these when they're solid red, no white at all.

      Invest in netting, it pays off. Although we have a lizard taking bites and SM saw a VERY smart Mocking Bird sneak under the netting...

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  2. Yay for those strawberries! Here's the simple jam recipe I've used for about a hundred years. Don't use over-ripe berries as you will have strawberry syrup rather than strawberry jam. Pick a few definitely under-ripe berries (2/3 red and 1/3 yellow) to throw in the mix. Those will still have a good amount of natural pectin which will make for thickener.

    Measure 2 qts. of crushed berries. (Takes about 3 ample quarts whole berries to make the 2 qts. crushed.)Put crushed berries and 5 cups sugar in large kettle. Slowly bring to boiling stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.

    Cook rapidly until thick, about 45 minutes. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.

    Pour, boiling hot into pint jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Adjust caps.

    Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: About 4 pints.

    Sometimes the mixture doesn't look very thick after the 45 minutes of cooking, but I process anyway as it does set up a little after processing. This recipe will never make a solid, thick jam but the flavor is extremely fresh . . . and no one has ever complained about it sliding off their toast yet!

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  3. I wish I was your neighbor so I could barter for berries! Here's a recipe you might like: http://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2013/05/10/canned-strawberry-lemonade-concentrate-with-home-made-strawberry-daiquiri-mix-recipe-too/.
    Enjoy!

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  4. What a wonderful harvest! I see jams (I use about the same as mama pea but hadn't thought about the unripe...great idea!) and pies in your future. When they first start trickling in I freeze till there is enough for a batch. If you pancake eaters you can save the runny jam for syrup. We love it!

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