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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strawberries, Strawberries

It's strawberry season.  Local strawberries abound at farm stands, farmers markets, groceries, and pick your own farms.  What to do with the seasons bounty?
I have always made preserves.  Not jellies with pectin added, just plain preserves.  Then I discovered drying strawberries in the oven to preserve them.  What fun!  Here's how I do both.

Strawberry Preserves

4 cups strawberries
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped

In a 4 quart saucepan, place the strawberries and the sugar.  Mash the strawberries slightly, leaving most whole.  Add the vanilla bean seeds and the vanilla bean.
Over medium heat, cook until the sugar has melted and there is liquid.  Raise the heat to medium high and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove the vanilla pod.
Pour the preserves into sterilized canning jars and seal with sterilized lids.  Let cool and seal.  Place in the refrigerator.  The preserves will keep refrigerated for 6 months.

To sterilize jars:  Wash jars with warm soapy water and rinse well.  Place on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven and let heat for 30 minutes.  Take the lids and place in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes.

Dried Strawberries

1 quart strawberries.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Thinly slice the strawberries and place in a single layer on the baking pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 hours.  Allow to cool.  Make sure they are crisp and place in an air tight container.  They will keep for up to 3 months.  If they are not crisp, they will go bad.  If they are not crisp when you take them out of the oven, let them stand for 24 hours until dry.


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