Strawberry harvest and picking is a great way to spend time with the kids and is a fun activity outdoors as well as indoors when you prepare your favorite foods with them. How to you know when to pick the right strawberry, and what do you do to preserve the scrumptious taste that is a strawberry when you opt to store them for later use? This article discusses tips that will help you harvest the best strawberries and ways to store them so that you are assure of a supply of strawberries beyond the harvest season.
Strawberries mature approximately thirty days after the first flower blossoms. They tend to develop the berries faster in warm weather. Picking strawberries in your own home garden is a great way to spend time with the family. When picking your strawberries, small dark berries are juicier and flavorful as they contain less water in them. If you plan to store them (in room temperature) for a while longer before using them, a slightly less red berry can be picked. Once picked when they are whitish, they will change color and become redder. However, these will not gain in the full flavor. If you plan on freezing the strawberries, choose those that are firm and not dead ripe. Fruit picked for jelly making should be slightly under ripe.
Pick the berries in the early morning, daily or at least every other day during the picking season. Use a shallow container to store the strawberries you\’ve just picked. To pluck them, grasp the stem just above the berry with your index finger and thumb, then pull the berry off with a slight twist, leaving a little bit of stem with the berry. Try not to pile too high a container of strawberries so that you do not bruise the ones at the bottom. Collect about five inches deep bunch of berries before you switch containers.
Refrigeration – Place the strawberries in a single layer in moisture-free air tight containers. They can be kept in a refrigerator for two to three days. There is no need to wash the berries until you are ready to eat them. This is to prevent mold from growing on them (and it WILL grow if the berries come in contact with water, even when kept in the fridge).
Freezing – Cut off the green caps and place UNWASHED berries into a freezer bag. Vacuum seal the bag, making sure that all the air is out of the bag. This method allows you to keep your strawberries for up to 6 months.
Strawberry Jam – making strawberry jam is another great way to enjoy and store your harvest.
What you need:
4 cups of frozen strawberries
2 cups of grape juice
6 tablespoon of corn starch
4 tablespoon of honey
3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
- Dissolve the cornstarch in juice and bring to boil in a saucepan or pot. Stir often to prevent clumping.
- Combine all other ingredients into the mix
- Cook until the strawberries are slightly thawed.
- Remove from heat. Mash the strawberries using a potato masher.
- Pour the mixture into jar and cap them (airtight).
- Refrigerate the jars of jam.
You can use your stored (or fresh) strawberry in a variety of recipes like shortcakes, sherbets, ice cream or pie. Below is an example of how to make a strawberry shortcake with cream scones which will be a delight to many children and adults alike. Sweet cream scones make for a perfect base for the strawberry shortcake and you can garnish it with decorative sugar to achieve a beautiful glaze.
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (measure about 9 ounces)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold butter
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Combine the strawberries with the sugar in a bowl and refrigerate.
- Heat your oven to 375° and grease a scone pan or cookie sheet.
- Combine the ingredients for the scones (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a mixing bowl and crumb them with the butter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with vanilla and heaving whipping cream and then stir it into the bread crumb flour mixture.
- Knead the above combined ingredients into a dough on a floured surface. Pat the dough into a scone pan.
- Make some glaze by whisking the egg with cream or milk.
- Brush the scones with the glaze mixture.
- Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes (until lightly browned).
- Insert a toothpick into the center one of the scones. If it comes out clean, then its done. Remove from oven and cool on racks.
- Beat 1 cup of heavy cream until the cream stiffens then beat in powdered sugar until peaks form.
- Split the scones and sandwich the scones with a spoon full of strawberries and whipped cream. Top the scones itself with some more whipped cream and a few fresh strawberry slices.