seeing red (berries)

Yeah, that drawing (not mine – artist unknown to me) is how I started to feel after three days of dealing with 30 Ibs of U-Pick strawberries that we picked last Monday at Bissett Farms in Delta. It was worth all the trouble though, because damn, those berries are tasty. So juicy and sweet, with just the right amount of tartness. Scott and I froze the majority of the berries for future use, but I also used my mom’s dehydrator to make some dried strawberry slices, and a strawberry-sage-basil fruit leather using our garden herbs from the balcony. It turned out to be really tasty! It’s difficult not to eat all of it at once, so I’ve hidden it in our pantry to pick at gradually.

I based my fruit leather recipe on this one I found via Gojee.com. I decided I didn’t want the basil to be as present, so I used only 6 medium sized leaves of basil and a small handful of the rainbow sage. The result is a fragrant, tangy leather. Mmmm.

I used fresh basil and rainbow sage from our garden.

It’s super easy (just blend and pour) and is best made with really ripe fruit. Our dehydrator took about 11 hours to dry the leather, and I planned it somewhat poorly by starting the dehydrating a little early, and then realizing that I’d have to wake up at 4 AM to check it.. but I took a risk and just slept to my usual 8 AM which was perhaps a little longer than it should have been drying, but all in all still tasty and chewy. Next time I will think before I press the On switch.

Day three of strawberry processing involved my first try at making jam. The idea of making jam used to freak me out because of the sterilization process, so I went easy for the first time and made a small batch since I don’t have a hot water bath. I tried the inversion method but am still keeping the two 500 ml jars in the fridge to be safe.

I used another recipe via gojee.com, for strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar and black pepper. This recipe uses a microwave to cook the berries, which I am not really a fan of, so I used the stove top and followed the instructions on the pectin package for the cooking process.

jammin

Unfortunately following two recipes was probably not the best idea considering it was my first time making jam. Rather than go with my instincts, I followed the cook time on the package which seemed fine initially, but when I poured the jam into jars it was pretty runny. I just kept going however, and the result isn’t bad at all. It’s more of a compote style – on the saucy side rather than the jammy side. The flavour is awesome – not too sweet, with a hint of that vinegar zip. It also has a pretty deep red colour from those gorgeous dark red berries we picked. The only thing I might change is to add a bit more pepper, and probably more pectin if the berries I have next time are as ripe as these were.

I’ve learned a lot this week in the world of food, mainly that the things I thought were really time consuming and difficult are in fact pretty easy! Perhaps still just as time consuming as I imagined though.. hehe.  I can’t wait to go blueberry picking next! Hurray for local berries.

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