Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mangia Mamma's Five Favorites- Special Strawberry Ed.

This week's edition is all about Fragaria × ananassa- 
the botanical name for the humble yet delicious strawberry...


1. Tis the Season
Fordyce Farms in Salem
 June means a few things in Oregon, school gets out, road construction starts, and my personal favorite, strawberries are in season. I used to be one of the folks who would "splurge" on the large, albeit tasteless berries from the state just south of us, but a couple of years ago, I swore off buying anything other than local berries. Thankfully, my friend Annette and her wonderful family can meet my berry needs at Fordyce Farms*! With both u-pick and an on site market, I can get my berries however I want. Okay, it doesn't hurt that both Joshua and Mary are getting to work there this summer, so I could actually get my berry-fix almost everyday. The main point is, if you have an opportunity to go and pick your own or at least buy local berries, DO IT! Not only will it be a great experience for you, you'll be supporting local folks who are small business owners too. *Fordyce Farms also has wonderful local produce (much of it grown on site) available all summer as well as the berries, Raymond's baked goods, great coffee and gift items. 
Strawberry Fields Forever...                                       
The Fordyce Farms Store and kitchen where Raymond makes THE scones!!
 2. Raymond's Strawberry Scones
Now, I will admit that I am a pretty decent cook. I've even been known to bake a few yummy things. This being said, the strawberry scones that Raymond Fordyce (the owner of the above mentioned Fordyce Farms) bakes are the best scones I have ever eaten. He makes others- the oatmeal are so goos, especially with a little butter and jam, but there is just something about the flavor, texture and melt-in-your-mouth goodness that is a Fordyce Farms strawberry scone. If you get the chance to stop by the farm, be sure and try one. You can also get them at Salem Public Market on Saturdays.

3. Strawberry Freezer Jam

When the kids were younger, I tried to do lots of canning and "putting up" of the amazing produce we get here in the Willamette Valley. Then as they got school age, I did some but not as much. The last couple of years have been fairly busy, so I only did a few things. Finally this year, I realized if I was going to try to help save our family money, one of the easiest ways is to start canning again. Thanks to one of our awesome lady fencers, Carol, I was the happy recipient of six boxes of canning jars in the last month or so! Added to that, I've actually been buying pectin plus the needed lids and other supplies, so I'd be ready. The result: six pints of homemade strawberry jam in the Keatley larder. I ended up using a freezer jam recipe for this batch found in the box of Mrs. Wages Pectin, and it turned out great.

4. Strawberry-Basil Honey Syrup
Strawberry-Basil Honey Yumminess!
After having picked a bunch of strawberries, I realized I should try something other than just jam. Thanks again to Pinterest, I found a neat recipe from Monica at The Yummy Life for Strawberry-Basil Honey Syrup. Following her easy to understand directions, I now have a shiny jar of fruit, herbage & honey melding flavors in our fridge until I strain it out for syrup tomorrow. The other cool thing about her syrup post is its got a bunch of other fruit/herb combinations which I plan to try. Can't wait for this syrup to be done, so I can make some Strawberry Prosecco!

5. Strawberry Waffle Syrup plus bonus materials...
After trying the other syrup, I got to thinking of how yummy strawberry syrup on waffles can be. It's another simple recipe:
Strawberry Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups slice strawberries
Place water and sugar in medium saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar. Add strawberries; bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for another 10 minutes. Let cool then strain through fine mesh sieve into jar. Let cool on counter for 20-30 minutes then store in refrigerator. Be sure to save strained strawberries in refrigerator as they are delicious over yogurt or ice cream!
Strawberry Waffle Syrup and leftover strawberry goodness!

Freezing strawberries- Here are a few tips for freezing those berries you want to save for a later day.
- DO NOT WASH your berries as they tend to get mushy if you do it before freezing. Do, 
however, feel free to wipe off the really dirty ones if there are any.
-Put the strawberries on a baking sheet, not touching one another, and freeze until solid.
-Transfer the strawberries to plastic resealable bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer. Most people say you can store them up to six months, but I had some in our freezer for almost a year before using, and they were fine.

Be sure to visit Moxie Wife to check out Hallie's Five Favorites for this week (hint: it's all made-up) as well as these blogs:

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