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It is this: there is no such thing as a bad strawberry.
While it's true that, as a result of being a tender fruit requiring gentle care, we occasionally run across a strawberry that we can't salvage with a paring knife, my husband believes that as long as a strawberry is not spoiled, it's prime eating. Because of his fondness for them, we currently (meaning there are more in the works!) have 8 raised beds filled with strawberries. In addition, we have plants that we've allowed to develop on the ground from runners that spilled over the sides of the beds.
We'll cover the care of strawberry plants in a future article. For today, since we're in the midst of the strawberry harvest, I want to focus our attention on some easy ways to enjoy eating strawberriies!
Having 8 beds of strawberries, our daily harvest is plentiful enough for us to eat a generous portion and have some left over to make strawberry jam. You may not be growing strawberries yourself but, with this being the right time for harvesting them, you can buy them in large quantities fairly inexpensively and enjoy these treats as well.
One of the most effortless ways to enjoy strawberries is to serve them atop a slice of chocolate cake made from a cake mix. This is how we eat them most days, sometimes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
My favorite way to eat strawberries is in this pie. Not only is the crust unusual, being made from a meringue, it also includes an unusual ingredient. Be brave and give it a try! It will give you a whole new respect for saltine crackers.
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
10 saltine cracker squares crushed
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 quart strawberries
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
Beat together until the stiff, but do not over-beat. Refrigerate until needed.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously butter a 10 inch pie plate.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add the sugar while beating to form a meringue.
Fold in crushed saltines and pecans. Spoon into the buttered pie plate and spread evenly over the bottom and up the sides.
Bake 30 minutes. When cool, fill with strawberries and top with whipped cream.
Any left-over strawberries we harvest are used to make jam, with the goal of putting enough on my pantry shelves to last until next year’s harvest.
Jam making seems intimidating to many people but it's really as simple as cooking strawberries and sugar together and, depending on the recipe, possibly adding a package of pectin. After filling sterilized jars and putting lids on them, the jars are submerged in a pot of boiling water for a short period of time to form a vacuum seal, making them safe for shelf storage. That's it! If you can boil fruit and sugar and boil water, you can make several jars of jam in under an hour.
There are entire books dedicated to the subject of jam and jelly making. The simplest way to get started is to use one of the recipes that is included in a box of pectin.
I hope, whether you grow your own strawberries or purchase them from someone else, you'll decide to experience the joy of making your own jam. Plan on making a pie to celebrate when you’re finished!