WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GROW TOO MANY STRAWBERRIES

Freezing

  • Freezing really preserves the flavour of strawberries and it is quick and easy. The main thing is that you want the frozen berries to remain loose so that you can easily remove a small amount as you need them from the bags.
  • You can freeze whole, sliced or halved whatever suits you best.
  • Place the washed, hulled and prepared berries on a flat tray making sure they don’t touch each other and place in the freezer for 2 hours.
  • Remove and bag them in snap lock bags exclude the air (you almost completely close the bag and then can suck the air out with a straw from a small space left at the end of the bag quite easily and then quickly seal the bag once the air is removed
  • Freeze.

You can then use the frozen berries to add to smoothies or even make jam from them later.
Some people sprinkle the berries with a bit of caster sugar but remember that it is the strawberry flavour you are after not the sugar!

 

 

Bottling

The main thing to remember with bottled strawberries is that they do not taste like fresh ones – they are cooked and sugar is added to preserve them. There are several ways to bottle strawberries some people use sugar syrup and just pour it over the uncooked berries and then place in bottle and process in a hot water bath. Others don’t use syrup, just sugar and berries but cook them before bottling – if you do this then the oven preserving method below is perfect.

2kgs of berries will make about 1.2litres of bottled fruit.

  • 2kgs grams of strawberries
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar (375grams)

First sterilise the jars and lids:
Place jars in the preserving bath on a wire rack. Fill with water to cover bring to a rolling boil and maintain this for 10 minutes. Lids and closures should also be treated in the same way.

Keep the jars the oven at about 80 – 90°C until you are ready to pack with your produce.
OR

  •     Wash thoroughly in hot water, invert and drain.
  •     Just before filling, place in a 40°C oven to warm up.
  •     Remove and immediately fill with the preserve (while the jar is still hot).
    You should not put a hot preserve in a cold jar or a cold preserve in a hot jar as the jar will crack.

No Syrup Method:

  •     Use fresh fruit only the wash and hull it.
  •     Sprinkle it with the sugar and place in the fridge for 6 hours or so.
  •     Pour into a large heavy based pan and cook gently until the sugar dissolves.
  •     Bottle the fruit and secure the lids and process in the hot water bath.

Syrup Method:

  •     Place prepared fruit into warm (not hot or they may crack) the sterilised jars and cover with the sugar syrup leaving a 1.5cm head space.
  •     Use ¾ cup of sugar per 1 litre of water
  •     Heat the sugar and water gently, stirring as the sugar dissolves. Allow for the syrup to boil for a minute before taking off the heat.
  •     Pour the warm syrup into the strawberry filled jars running a knife along the edge to avoid air pockets.

Water Bath
You can use a preserving unit which with have an inbuilt thermometer of just a saucepan in which case you will need a separate thermometer.
Immerse jars in a saucepan of water at approximately 38°C. Take 25-30 minutes to bring to a simmering point of 88°C then simmer for the appropriate time according to the chart below.

  • Place rack in the bottom of the water bath. Insert the thermometer into the space provided at the side of the bath if you are using a commercially produced bath
  • Fill with water. Remember not to over fill as the water level will rise when you place the jars into the bath
  • If the food has been cold pack make sure that the water is hot but not boiling.
  • For hot packed the water should be at boiling point.
  • Carefully place jars into the bath using the tongs. To prevent damage make sure that the bottles don’t touch.
  • Water level should 2.5cm – 5cm above the tops of the jars. Add more boiling water if needed to cover to this level.
  • The timing process begins once the water temperature reaches boiling point.
  • Processing times vary for different produce and is also dependent on the altitude at which you live so it is best to obtain the manufacturers guidelines in relation to this.
  • Remove the jars and place on a wooden surface to cool. Do not cool I a draught i.e. near an open window as the jars may crack.

The Cool Oven Method
Preheat the oven to 120°C. Fill the jars with fruit (without any syrup), then put them in the oven. Leave them for the length of time indicated by the chart below. Remove from the oven and fill the jar with boiling syrup or water. If the fruit has shrunk considerably, use fruit from one jar to top up others.  Put on lids and leave to cool.

Drying
If you have a dehydrator you can use that but you can also use an oven to dry your fruit. Here is the oven method:

  • Wash and hull the strawberries.
  • Preheat the oven to 100°C
  • Halve or quarter the strawberries according to how big they are
  • Arrange them cut side up (so they don’t stick) on a baking sheet (parchment/baking paper underneath the berries with prevent them from sticking).
  • Place in the oven for 3 hours
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 30 minutes
  • Once cool they should be crisp – this means that they are thoroughly dry.

 

 

 

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