We took our two and a half year old strawberry picking last weekend because it seemed like a good, wholesome activity to do with a toddler. So we looked on the internet for a farm near us that had a harvest your own program and drove down in the morning. We paid our twenty dollars for a one gallon bucket (harvesting your own strawberries is not a good deal financially; the same amount of fruit would have cost about $12 at our grocery store this week) and commenced picking. The fields were laid out in long double rows of strawberry plants heaped up on hillocks with grassy paths in between the rows. The sun was warm but not hot and the crickets were chirping and the air smelled, naturally, of ripe strawberries.
Happily, we were correct in our guess that this would be a fun family activity. Our daughter grasped the concept of picking the red berries immediately and had a wonderful time hunting through the plants finding nice red ones to pluck. The skill of grasping the berry and tugging on it was just right for her little hands. We spent some time discussing the idea that the flowers would turn into green berries which would then turn into red berries, which I hope helps her as she is beginning to wrestle with the concept of her own growth and development. She asks us “I getting bigger and bigger?” and we tell her “Yes! You are! It’s wonderful!” And of course, she had a ton of fun eating the strawberries and feeding some to her stuffed bunny, who was stained rather pink by the end of the morning. So the outing was a complete success, with one problem. Now we have a gallon of strawberries.
It may not sound like a lot, but that is a very significant amount of fruit. We typically buy strawberries one pint at a time, maybe a quart if they are on sale, and a quart will last for at least a week. I don’t think our gallon of strawberries has a 4 week shelf life. So we are trying to work out what to do with a gallon of strawberries. So far we are eating strawberries daily (I am chopping some up in my morning oatmeal, which definitely improves it) and we have made strawberry popsicles. My husband found a recipe with yogurt and sweetened condensed milk that turned out quite well and has served as our after dinner treat this week. I think strawberry shortcake, that old standby summer favorite, will feature in our dinner tomorrow. But we still have about a half gallon of strawberries left, so I am looking for ideas. A good (and very culinarily talented) friend of ours canned strawberry jam last year, but I don’t think we have the skill or equipment for that level of project. I looked online for strawberry recipes but the ones I found didn't appeal. They were either for smoothies or suggested using strawberries to garnish other dishes (salads or deserts) instead of focusing on the strawberries.
I really don't want to waste all this wonderful fruit. I suppose that, all else failing, we can clean and chop and freeze the strawberries and use them in more popsicles later in the summer. However, if anyone has any relatively easy suggestions for using a plenitude of strawberries, I’m all ears.