Marc planted about 200 or so everbearing strawberry plants last year. This year they have really produced a lot of fruit. We've picked lots and there are more blooms on the plants. We lost some in the drought but remarkably most of the plants survived. These particular berries ("Eversweet" variety from Womack Nursery) is ok, but not the sweetest berry I've ever had. The supposedly produce well in this area, which is why we tried them. The idea of the everbearing type of berry seems like it would work well - you get a steady supply of berries throughout the season. However, even with 200 plants we only get about 1/2 gallon every other day or so. Of course, we lose some berries to birds and bugs. Considering that we don't use any chemicals on these berries, I think they've done really well. I think the next time we plant strawberries we'll plant the "June bearing" type, which gives you a lot of berries over a short period.
We've been enjoying the berries fresh as well as in strawberry milkshakes. I made some strawberry frozen yogurt in my cuisinart ice cream maker - it was super easy. I bought some fat free yogurt at Kroger for $1 for about a quart (the expiration date was coming up so they wanted to get rid of it), added about 2 cups pureed strawberries, sugar, milk, and vanilla. I also poured a little of this mixture into some popsicle molds and froze them. Rylan and Journey liked them. I've been freezing sliced strawberries in portion sized containers and pureed berries in 2 cup size containers for making jam.
I have tried the various pectin products available in the stores and never really liked the way the jams turned out. I don't like jelly so I never make it. I have seen Pomona's Pectin in the health food store but it was a little pricey, so I never tried it. I wasn't sure if I would have any greater success with it, so I didn't want to spend the extra money on it. They claim you can use less sugar and one box makes several recipes. I got in on Dana's coop purchase not too long ago and they carry the Pomona's Pectin from the coop that Dana buys from, it was much cheaper than the store. It does in fact make several batches from one box, so it really turns out to be cheaper than the store pectins. It jelled really well, almost too well. Next time I will not cook it quite so long.
With the Pomona's Pectin you mix up some calcium (included in the box) with water and keep it refrigerated. It lasts a long time (months). Somehow this calcium makes the pectin jell better. Anyway, other than the calcium, the method is pretty much the same as any other pectin product. I was able to use less than half the usual amount of sugar. With the usual recipes, you basically end up with fruit flavored sugar. With this method, you can actually taste the fruit.
|Mash & measure the fruit|
|Bring fruit to boil, have sugar/pectin mix ready|
|Getting ready to process the jam in a boiling water bath canner|
|Rylan enjoying Grandma & Granda Krause's Strawberry Jam|