Gigi's Blog » Tales of the Mortician's Wife

Strawberry Season!

It’s strawberry season around here!
That means, we loaded up the truck/van (I don’t know what to call our large family vehicle?!) and headed off to the local organic strawberry patch. Within 1.5 hours, the girls & I had picked 75 lbs. of fresh, red, delicious strawberries. The girls were excellent pickers!

Despite an early evening piano recital, we still have time to give attention to the fresh berries. The strawberries were promptly washed, hulled over an afternoon and then processed the following day.

I made strawberry pie filling, strawberry jam and rhubarb strawberry pie filling. I also froze quite a few large freezer bags of strawberries for future recipes and delight during the winter season. We have a small strawberry patch that we started this year, but I am sure it will be a few years before we can actually enjoy many berries from the patch.

Strawberry Pie Filling

6 quarts of fresh strawberries
4-6 cups of sugar (taste and decide on the sweetness you prefer)
2 1/4  cup of a thickener (I used Therm Flo)
7 cups of cold water
  1/2 cup of lemon juice

Here are the directions:

Wash strawberries well and drain fruit. Combine sugar and thickener (do not use cornstarch – you cannot process it) in a large pot. Add water and stir, cooking on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Mix until it is a smooth consistency.  Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add in drained berries immediately and fill jars, leaving 1 1/2 inch headspace. 
Wipe rims, add hot lids and rings and process in water bath for 30 minutes at a full rolling boil.

It is about time I flipped the one light to my pantry and start organizing what is needed, what was consumed the most, and so forth in our Provision Room. The task feels a bit daunting but once I get going, I know it won’t be so bad. I shall wait for a rainy day to tackle this job. There is still a lot of canning left over from last year, but I do know the tomato products (mainly pre-made tomato sauce and pizza sauce), carrots, soups and green beans were a favorite and will not last much more than a few more weeks.  Applesauce is another favorite and will need replenishing.

The vegetable garden is coming along- but slowly. It has been very rainy here and very mild weather. We do need some heat to pump up my tomato growth. There has just been SO much rain this season!  (Any tips for growing faster, bigger vegetable plants?) We spread some old, mature chicken manure around the plants about two weeks ago. We replanted some bean seeds, which the hard rain promptly washed away, and then replanted them again. Let’s hope they grow. Beans are a fun vegetable for everyone. So lovely fresh and beautiful canned and decent if frozen.The girls and I had to transplant our little corn plants from one half row to another, as only half a row of corn came up in each row (of which there are three). I replaced the empty row with some more squash plants.

How funny – I never thought I would be writing about a vegetable garden! It has certainly turned into “my life” lately. In fact, if I go to someone’s house, that’s the first place I want to see. You can skip giving me a tour of the inside of the home (although I still find that fascinating) – I would love to see your garden!  Even the girls are noticing people’s gardens more, as well. They are noticing plants and vegetables that are familiar to them in other people’s gardens.

And I could talk canning and ‘putting up’ all day with someone. And preserving of all ways … have you tried dehydrating? I was thinking how fun dehydrated strawberries would be for little mouths in the winter months? With so many young babies and children, I can imagine they would love little tidbits of treats such as dehydrated bananas and strawberries when the snow is falling all around us. What are your thoughts on dehydrating? I’m not sure if it is worth the cost for a dehydrator … hmm …

 

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2017 - 5:43 am

Gigi - I love your name, too! It is so feminine and fun! 🙂

July 2, 2017 - 1:16 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - As far as a girl’s L name.. I love mine.. Lynda Lu.. the Lu came from my mom’s..Lucille.. there are a few L’s!

June 29, 2017 - 10:00 am

Gigi - Maike, no, I did not get an email recently from you …?
Actually, we have four different gardening areas – and only because we keep expanding! One garden has two sections (but we will remove the fence eventually) and the third section is completely separate, which houses garlic and herbs.
There are some veggies that prefer to be planted near to each other but I am not good at remembering those just yet.

June 29, 2017 - 9:33 am

Maike - Hey Gillian, did you get my email – it’s always a mystery if anything reaches you. ^_^ Which plants have you grown there? It looks like you have to garden areas, do you keep fruits and veggies seperated by a fence? And are there some veggies/frutis that don’T like to be next to eachother?

June 29, 2017 - 6:02 am

Gigi - Rebecca, that is good to know about the dehydrator. In oatmeal – yum! That sounds great! I, too, dry herbs but just do it the old fashioned way. 😉 And yup, we spread the chicken and goat poop on our plants. I hope things warm up for the garden soon.
Milessa, it’s a great idea to just have the hydrator out for all the extras. Wonderful tips! I have my eye on a cheaper dehydrator (used) but am wondering if I need/should buy a better quality one.
Sarah, well done with your picking! I feel like we need to go back and get more -if it would stop raining!

June 29, 2017 - 4:23 am

Rebecca - I literally dreamed last night that I canned rhubarb pie filling! Haha! And I have a dehydrator and last fall I dehydrated strawberries and they were so tasty but about 6 pounds of strawberries only made one quart of dehydrated strawberries. We saved them to put on our oatmeal (I also did dehydrated blueberries). I use my dehydrator to dry herbs and fruit (last year I dried a bunch of peppermint for our own tea!), to dry sprouted grain for bread, dry soaked nuts, and even make yogurt cause I can set it to the temp I need and it keeps the milk at the proper temperature. I have a big Excalibur one, which aren’t cheap, but I have had it for over 6+ years and I’ve never had a problem with it…

I need to see if our stores are finally gonna sell organic strawberries — I haven’t seen many this year thus far and I too like to make strawberry rhubarb jam (my hubby’s favorite and I’m all out!)

Also: manure will help your plants a lot! We’ve been putting goat poop on all ours since I don’t have to wait for it to mature like I do with the chicken manure. We have also had a really rainy season thus far and so some of my plants have yellowed quite a bit…

June 28, 2017 - 10:01 pm

Milessa - I have dehydrated strawberries before. They are delicious and did not last long in my house. We put them in oatmeal, yogurt, trail mix, and just ate them by the handfuls. As with anything you dehydrate a lot fresh makes a small amount dehydrated. I think it was worth it, however I have a small dehydrator I bought years ago. During the summer months I leave the dehydrator out and when I have small amount of extra fruit and veggies that are not going to be used for eating, or putting up I dehydrate. Good luck.

June 28, 2017 - 9:01 pm

Sarah - Wow! 75 pounds of strawberries is fantastic!: ) My husband, little girl and I picked 8 quarts over the weekend, just enough for jam, shortcake and eating fresh. We too are working on a little strawberry patch of our own. It does take time, and it is harder to keep pests away than other berries than stand up off the ground.