This strawberry is juicy!
Another strawberry? Oh thank you!
Strawberries are so yummy!
We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. Years ago, when Ed and I were first dating, we’d go out to a fancy restaurant. But now, we’re just as happy to enjoy a quiet night at home. I try to make a special meal for the two of us, and I always like to include a strawberry dessert.
Big red hearts on Valentine’s Day make me think of strawberries. Unfortunately, strawberry season isn’t until June around here, and those berries shipped into the grocery store can be pricey, especially with this year’s weather. Not to mention, they’re gassed to ripen and never seem to have the same flavor or aroma as truly local, fresh, ripe berries.
If you’re a strawberry fan like me, you probably preserved a bunch of berries when they were in season, making jam or jelly, freezing or dehydrating. So, this year for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to make a strawberry dessert using the bounty of my freezer, and I wanted to share a few recipes that will work nicely with preserved or frozen berries.
Strawberry Cutie Pies are the perfect size for a romantic dinner with your Valentine. I think I’d put little hearts on the top this time instead of stars. Frozen whole berries, thawed and crushed, make a great substitute for fresh.
Strawberry Shortcake is a perfect way to use frozen sugared strawberries.
And for those of you who simply must have chocolate on Valentine’s Day, try Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping. I made this last year for Valentine’s Day and I was so happy to have leftovers for days.
I haven’t decided which one of these recipes I’ll make for Valentine’s Day this year, but I’m currently leaning towards the cutie pies. Any one of these desserts, when served after a meal cooked with love at home, makes for a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Use some beeswax candles for ambiance, and I’m certain you won’t even think about how eco-friendly it is. You’ll just enjoy the time with your sweetie.
This post is my contribution to this month’s APLS Blog Carnival, which is themed “Greening Valentine’s Day.” To read all about how to have a more eco-friendly Valentine’s Day, visit Retro Housewife Goes Green on January 19.
Note: If you have never canned before, I highly recommend Joy of Cooking: All about Canning and Preserving and the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. These books will help you learn about safe canning practices and the equipment you will need.
To me, the most important thing about making jelly successfully is following the measurements. If the measurements below don’t match the recipe on the package of pectin, follow that recipe instead to get your jelly to set properly. I’ve made jelly in the past that doesn’t “jell” and remains a liquid, and it’s mostly because I tried to sneak in more juice than the recipe calls for.
Start by crushing 4 quarts of hulled strawberries with a potato masher in a large pot. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Strain the berries using a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Let the juice drip into a bowl for an hour or more. You can save the berries to make fruit leather.
When the berries have drained, sterilize jars by boiling them in a large pot of water for 10 minutes. Let them sit in the steaming water until you are ready to use them.
Measure out 3 1/2 cups of strawberry juice. If you have extra, you can freeze ice cubes of the juice, which are especially good in lemonade.
Slowly stir in 1 package of powdered pectin, and start heating the juice over high heat.
Add 1/2 tsp butter to help keep the mixture from boiling over.
Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
Then add 4 1/2 cups of sugar, and stir to dissolve. Continue to heat the mixture over high heat.
Boil hard for 1 minute.
Skim off any foam, then ladel into the sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place caps on and screw on rings. If you have a half-full jar, cap it and use it right away, storing it in the fridge.
Return jars to the hot water. Bring to a boil, and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars to a towel or cutting board and allow them to cool, undisturbed, for about a day.
Label jars and store them in a dark place. Yield: about 6 1/2-pint jars.
Inspired by the mini cherry raspberry pies in this month’s Country Living, I decided to make my own little cutie pies. Intead of using store bought crust and canned filling, I made them from scratch. My recipe makes two 4 1/2 inch pies.
Divide the dough in half, then roll out. Place the dough in the pie pans, trim the edges and crimp. Roll out the scraps and use a star cookie cutter to make the stars for the top, which will be baked separately. Combine the berries, sugar and cornstarch and place in the pie shell. Place the stars on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Bake stars at 375°F for 8-10 minutes, and bake pies for 45 minutes or more until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. Cool and top with stars.
Thanks to everyone for all your thoughtful comments on my last post. I must admit that finals time at school is keeping me from responding intelligently to each of you. I also recognize that I must have been in a sour mood yesterday! Yikes!
To make up for it, I’m posting a sweet recipe today. We’re having a little celebration tomorrow in the science department and I volunteered to bring a pie. I’ve entered a berry pie contest in two weeks, so I’m testing out this recipe on the crowd.
Roll out the bottom crust and line the pie pan with it. Combine berries, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Pour into the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining crust, slice into strips and arrange in a lattice pattern. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or more until the filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned.