Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Preserves

So it is Strawberry season here in the Okanagan valley once again, and like many places, the season for local berries is very short. I happen to like berries all year round. However, if your goal is to cut back on your consumption of G.M.O. berries from god knows where, or even if you don't want to buy organic strawberries all the way from California or some South American paradise then the only option is to preserve.

Preserving can seem like a daunting task. I know it felt like one for me when I first began to do it. Thankfully there have been great strides made in ice box technology over the last century which allows for the easiest method of preserving. Yes, I'm talking about the freezer. If you have the space in your freezer there is no better way to ensure that you are eating great local fruit all year round. If you are like me, you don't have the freezer space to really make storing up like a squirrel a viable option.

Yes there are other means of fruit preservation i.e. dehydration, but what I am going to talk about is canning. Simple once you get the hang of it. There are a few things that you must be very diligent about when you start to do home canning. If done improperly the results can be disastrous to your health as well as others who may consume contaminated products. Now, don't go getting all put off by this and give up entirely. When done properly, canning can be very rewarding for not only you, but others who will marvel in the joys of eating June strawberries in January. Instead of going through all the procedures on safe canning just click here to be magically whisked away to great advice on how to get the job done safely and effectively.

Shannon and I just picked up 16lbs of beautiful strawberries from one of the road side fruit stands just outside of Osoyoos. The strawberries were grown in Vernon. A bit of a ways away but Okanagan valley all the same.

We wanted to do a couple of things with them so that we can enjoy them later in the year and also give away come the holiday season, or as we like to do so often, barter when a like minded individual comes along.

We decided to do a straight up strawberry jam, a savory strawberry compote and a vinaigrette for supper. Pretty straight forward. For the jam just cook them in some sugar and pectin and your pretty much good to go.
First you'll need to trim off the stems.

Then wash them all thoroughly to ensure that all dirt and foreign matter is removed.

For the compote I just made a spiced strawberry gastrique,

blended it up, poured it over the fresh berries while hot into sterilized jars,

popped on the caps, boiled and that's about that.

Like I said, it can seem a bit daunting at first, but, if you do your research, as with anything, it can be done very easily with confidence in no time at all. Just remember. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Botulism is a nasty little F'er.

Hope to see you all eating your own summer food on those cold December days.

Sean Peltier.

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