Strawberry fields forever

Strawberry-pickers-me-&-MrMarkSometimes too much of a good thing can be a very good thing.

Last weekend for Father’s Day, Marcus’s family and I took my pop-in-law Mr. Mark to Harvold Berry Farm. This U-Pick farm is a favorite of Marcus’s family. You can pick (and eat) as many strawberries as you want for $1.25 per pound.

Mr. Mark watched us pick because his knees just aren’t what they used to be. In less than an hour, Marcus, Char (Marcus’s mom), Logan (our nephew), and I picked 21 pounds of berries! We filled two big baskets like the one below to the brim. My sis-in-law Christy took these great photos when we finished–very muddy, but happy.

Strawberries-just-pickedYour back and thighs get a little sore bending over and crouching the whole time but you forget that when you see how beautiful the berries are.

Strawberries this ripe need to be eaten, cooked or frozen right away. After eating some fresh ones at the field and then later at Char and Mr. Mark’s place, Marcus and I took 11 pounds home with us. Because we want to have strawberries year-round, we decided to freeze our bounty.

Here’s how to do it.

1. First, fill a clean bowl or bucket with cold water. Place berries in the water and gently swish until you get all the dirt off of them. We had to do this several times as we had a lot of berries.

Strawberries-drying2. Lift the berries out of the water (do not drain them into a colander or else you’re dumping dirty water right on top of your clean berries!) and place them on cookie sheets lined with several sheets of paper towels.

3. Pat them dry with paper towels. Do not skip this step! If you don’t dry the berries, they will stick to the cookie sheets when they freeze.

Strawberry-freeze-24. Next, place the dry, clean berries on unlined cookie sheets.

Strawberry-freezze-35. Then, place them in the freezer for two hours. After two hours, check them to see if the outside of the berries are cold and dry. If they still feel tacky or a little damp, freeze for another half hour and check again.

Straweberry-freeze-4They should look like the berries on the left when they are fully frozen: dry, cold and hard.

Place the berries in freezer-safe tubs or freezer bags and store in your freezer.

Our 11 pounds of frozen strawberries will last us from June through December and they only cost us $13.75!

So, next time you have the chance to purchase ripe fruit in season, and at a good buy, consider buying more of it and freezing it.

With just a little work and effort, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor (pun intended) throughout the rest of the year!

Top two photos at Harvold Berry Farm by Christy Rainchild.