Category Archives: Preserving

Strawberry & Caneberry Season- An easy method to Freeze those luscious berries

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Strawberry Harvest

Berry season is upon us. Berries are wonderful eaten fresh with their juice flowing down your chin. You can make preserves, add them to just about anything for breakfast or create a wonderful dessert. But the season is over quickly so why not freeze some for later when berries are a mere memory of a season past.

Freezing strawberries is super simple. (As well are many caneberries, such as Raspberries,  Marionberries, Boysenberries etc.) Start with freshly picked berries. Ripe strawberries (or caneberries) from your yard or garden are perfect. Or find a local u-pick farm, farm stand or farmers market. Organically grown is best as commercially grown strawberries (and caneberries) are heavily sprayed with a variety of chemicals. Their seasons are short so don’t delay.

No need for any fancy equipment. I bet you have most everything you need right in your home. Freshly picked berries; a clean sink with cold water (for strawberries, not delicate caneberries); a colander of some sort to drain the berries; an old bath towel to absorb the last droplets or remove any debris; a teaspoon for removing any stray caps; a cookie sheet for freezing the berries on; zip-loc freezer bags or containers & a freezer.

Pick the berries. With or without caps is fine.

Carefully rinse a few boxes at a time in a sink of cold water. Swish about gently. (I only rinse strawberries as they sometimes come in contact with the soil. Caneberries are usually clean straight from the canes.)

Place clean berries in a colander to drain excess water. (Strawberries only)

Gently pour berries out onto a clean old bath towel. For strawberries this is to blot off the last droplets of water. For caneberries this step will allow any stems, leaves or stray bugs to be removed.

Remove any stray caps & place berries on a heavy cookie sheet.

When the sheet is filled place in the freezer for several hours to freeze hard.

Remove berries from the cookie sheet and place in freezer bags or containers.

Back in the freezer they go and you are done.

No mess, no fuss, no juicy smashed berries!

6 pint boxes of strawberries or caneberries will make approximately 1 gallon bag of frozen whole berries.

ENJOY!!!

FullCircle Farm 2014- A Photo Retrospective

It has been quite a year at FullCircle farm. I hope you enjoy the photo tour thru all the beautiful seasons of 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!

Homemade Grape Juice… Preserving a Summertime Delight

Concord Grapes
Concord Grapes

Making homemade grape juice can be a very involved process. Over the years I have tried many different methods- crushing, steaming, juicing, but all were very time consuming and the end product wasn’t  satisfactory. I have developed a method that is much quicker, easier to do and the end product tastes wonderful.  Here is my method. Follow the steps in the photos at the bottom of the post. I hope you give it a try.  Let me know your results, I would love to hear from you!

Always follow good general canning practices.  Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation-   http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

1. Select clumps of grapes that are fully ripe. Concords are great but I have used other grape varieties also. (This method also works wonderfully for preserving cane berry juices.)

2. Prepare your jars, lids & rings. Keep them hot.

3. Boil water in a kettle for adding to the jars.

4. Place grape clumps in a colander over the sink and rinse them off with cold running water.

5. Pick the good grapes off of the stems and drop them into the jar.  Fill the jar 1/2 full with the grapes. Mix grapes from different clumps to get the best flavor. Stems and culls go into a bucket to feed to the chickens.  They Love them!

6. Pour 1/4 cup of sugar over the grapes in the jar. More or less as you prefer.

7. Fill the remainder of the jar with boiling water leaving a 1/2″ headspace.

8. Wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth.

9. Secure a boiled lid & band to the jar. Don’t over tighten.

10. Place jars in your canner.  I use a pressure canner but you could also use the waterbath method if you prefer.

11. I process the jars for 10 minutes @ 5#’s pressure. Follow the canning procedure and times for your canner.

12. When processing is complete allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Store in a cool dark place.

13. To Serve-  Place a funnel and fine mesh strainer over your chosen serving container. Shake the jar of canned grapes hard. Pour the contents of the jar into the strainer.  Allow the liquid to passively drain into your serving container. If you press on the pulp  your juice will become cloudy. Taste test. You may wish to add more water &/or more sweetener to your taste preference.

14.  Serve cold or over ice.

Preserving…

raspberry juice & peaches
raspberry juice & peaches

July on the farm is a month of constant motion with a nonstop parade of outdoor projects. August is a month of preserving the bounty of that lively parade. Preserving by canning, freezing, drying and fermenting. We started the season with freezing jams and bags of berries, fermenting dill pickles and sauerkraut and drying herbs. Then came processing a Dexter steer for beef and Freedom Ranger chickens for fryers, all now tucked safely into the freezer. Then came curing the harvest of garlic, storage onions and potatoes. Now it is canning season- fruits, vegetables, salsas and berry juices to be followed by fruit butters, ketchup, more salsa & grape juice, then drying of any extra fruits into sweet snacks. End of the season will be freezing of sweet corn and apple cider pressed from our own apples. Lastly is the curing of dried beans, pumpkins and squash. By the time the serious rains of Fall begin the house will have become a larder filled with gastronomic goodness.

You can feel the season changing, whispering it’s urgency. The days are shorter, the nights cooler, the shadows longer. Months of planning and planting and caring for plants is leading to the crescendo of harvest. The kitchen, pantry & porch are littered with boxes, baskets, bowls & bushels overflowing with produce. Yesterday I canned tomato salsa. Today I have canned peaches & raspberry juice. Bartlett pears, Gravenstein applesauce and tomatoes are next on the list. Much of every meal comes from the farm. It is such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment & nothing compares to the flavor of fresh organic food grown right outside your kitchen door. Food that is a product of your hand from seed to meal.

I helped my Mom when I was younger to preserve their harvest. Many hours of each summer were spent in the garden harvesting, at the kitchen table prepping and at the stove preserving, learning by doing. By seasons end lines of beautiful jars of colorful produce lined the shelves in their dark and cool basement. You could measure the passage of the seasons by the number of empty jars on those shelves.

Many years later, in my own home, by August the lines of jars on my pantry shelves are mostly empty. Slowly over the next several months empty jars turn into jars filled with flavorful goodness & become a beautiful crazy quilt of color on the pantry wall. The freezers are also filling with bags of berries and other fruits, containers of jams and also chicken fryers and beef.

This morning standing at the kitchen counter, between stove and sink, filling jars with peaches harvested just down the road from the orchard of elderly neighbors, I found my mind drifting back in time. A connection to previous generations in a jar of peaches. A mason jar with a 1976 bicentennial logo on it, a gift from my Mom so many years ago to mark the occasion. Wearing grandma Rose’s apron, using our long passed friend Addie’s old wire jar lifter. Peaches lifted from a wooden box that my Dad had picked fruit into years ago. Jars cooling on a kitchen table that was in my husbands childhood home when he was just a boy. Connections to people no longer with us.

Today was about preserving food, preserving a season but also very much about preserving memories, preserving a way of life.