Canning Berries

After Pickin’

strawberry 46After a strawberry picking morning in the garden, comes a lot of prep work. Cleaning, sorting, coring the harvest. I am lucky to have a sweet husband who stands at the kitchen counter coring and sorting with me. This batch, after prep work, measured 36 cups ready to be process.

Syrup

canning Strawberry 00724 cups are split into 2 pans on the stove. Pete’s Mom gave me the recipe and I remember Dorothy every time I make it. 12 cups fruit to 8 cups sugar, brought to a boil then immediately add 1 tsp of butter & turn down to simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, add 3 Tbls lemon juice. This image shows it ready to foam over the top on the stove.

canning Strawberry 008Beware, boiling it is where it gets a little tricky. Only fill the pans about half-way full, Be careful to turn the temp down quickly when they boil, it can very easily and quickly boil right over the top. Have a teaspoon of butter ready and drop it into the foamy rising syrup. You’ll see the level recede back down into the pan rather quickly.

canning colander 05I place a colander cone in the sink with a bowl below it. In the sink is lower and easier to reach, and spills are no problem. Pour through the colander to strain the fruit pulp out and put aside to make fruit roll-up’s later. Then, pour syrup into the jars and proceed with seal steps.

I know syrup makes a sticky mess on everything including all your utensils and pans. Clean up is a challenge, but remember, you don’t have to fight with it. Soak everything in warm soapy water, and it will soften, allowing a really easy cleanup.

Fruit Roll-ups

canning Strawberry RU 003Making fruit roll-ups with the already sweetened pulp is easy cause you have already done all the work. I line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap that can be microwaved. Then, spread the pulp 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick on the sheets.

canning Strawberry RU 004Place them in a 150Âș oven overnight to dehydrate. In the morning, it is done if it is not sticky to touch. If it is still sticky, put it back in and let it go longer.canning Strawberry RU 006

Juice

Okay I got too tired to process the remaining 12 cups of fresh strawberries. Instead of staying up late into the night, I freeze the remaining 12 cups in a zip lock bag. I’ll make strawberry juice later.

Strawberry Patch History

Berry Patch History

strawberry 01aGrowing strawberries for the family took us a little while to get right. Pete and I started seriously growing them in 2015 at our place in Elk, WA. Beginning with seed, because of budget restrictions gave me very little success, but I didn’t give up and kept planting for 3 years. Looking at this picture they look pretty scraggly. Finally we determined that the location they were put in the garden was not good for them.

Moving

strawberry 02aWhen we expanded our garden in 2018, I decided to move the strawberry patch to the other side. First, building a 8″ raised bed approx 16 ft long x 2.5 ft wide using old concrete blocks and then transplanting the plants. We were blessed with a gift of more starts from my friend’s beautiful patch, and she also showed me how to pull the runners as I picked. Even though this was a new patch, because of the move, these 2 suggestions really made a noticeable improvement to the strawberry harvest and fruit size.

Bigger

strawberry 12In the spring of 2019 my strawberries were overcrowded and desperately needing thinning. I removed the concrete blocks (CMU) surrounding the raised bed. Then we tilled the area around the original raised patch, and lowered the soil level to be equal with the surrounding garden. We could disc the soil with our tractor then.

strawberry 19Thinning the overgrown area, I transplanted them to the newly tilled area in rows about 4-6 inches apart. The strawberry area became a 20 ft x 8 ft patch.

strawberry 42This is what it looks like this year and now this old gardening girl is beginning to wonder, “What was I thinking?” We are already harvesting a lot of berries this summer. Sometimes my body talks to me about it and I am making friends with Tylenol and Aspirin in the evenings.

Strawberry Heaven

strawberry 41A couple days ago was my first time picking  this year and it amounted to 1-1/2 gallons.

strawberry 44I picked 5 gallons of fresh strawberries in the garden this morning. Looks like I am going to be real busy with these berries this year, picking, eating, processing and canning.

strawberry 47If you are in need, call us and we will share… or you can get permission to come pick yourself. We are considering selling at a minimal price to our friends and family or maybe a farmer’s market because we will probably have quite a nice harvest this year.

strawberry 46We do love these beautiful red berries. Today, I plan on making syrup, juice and fruit roll-ups after it cools a little more this evening.

 

Strawberries This Morning

strawberry harvest
Two days worth of strawberries.

I waited two days then picked strawberries again. It seems like a lot of work but worth it. The harvest amounted to 20 cups after cleaning and coring. Whew! Twenty cups is a lot of strawberries but it boiled down (literally)….

strawberry syrup
4 quarts strawberry syrup

to four quarts of strawberry syrup….

fruit roll-up
strawberry fruit roll-up

and two sheets of fruit roll-up in the dehydrator this am. So, you can see that gardening is keeping me busy this summer. This is the first time making fruit roll-ups so my fingers are crossed that they will come out yummy. It is always nice to have something for the grandkids when they come visit.