My love for pick-your-own anything runs deep. In my first job as a newspaper reporter at the age of 22, I had the sweet gig of writing the health and food sections for the Jefferson City News Tribune. I got to go around town talking to restaurants, home chefs and growers, and I was always fascinated by the story behind the food. One of my favorite pieces to research and write was about a you-pick blueberry farm in between Columbia and Jefferson City. I wrote the article and then promptly returned to pick 20 pounds of berries!
When you purchase from local farmers, you really get a glimpse of the food’s story and get to be part of the very next step: Making something delicious. As someone who loves to cook and create in the kitchen, harvesting my own perfectly sun-ripened berries has great appeal.
My kids and I met friends at Benny’s Berries in Kansas City just before noon, and by 12:35, we had flats brimming with perfectly ripe and juicy strawberries. The berries were abundant and the picking super quick, even with these rowdy fellas and their shenanigans.
When we returned home for the evening, both kids wanted to be a part of processing all the berries. Gage sliced all the berries for a fresh strawberry pie while Adelyn made the sweet sauce that would bind a mountain of fresh fruit together.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
(recipe shared by Rosemary Holden)
4 cups fresh sliced strawberries
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch (we subbed arrowroot powder because I was out of corn starch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pint whipping cream
Crush 1 cup of berries in a small sauce pan. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for three minutes. Strain the strawberry juice and add enough water to equal one cup, if necessary. Combine, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Slowly add 1 cup of juice, stirring, until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring until thick and clear red. Cool slightly and pour over three cups of sliced berries. Spoon berries into a pre-baked pie shell. Top with whipping cream and chill.
Next up was the freezer jam. After Gage was in bed, Adelyn and I started riffing on the Quick Strawberry Jam recipe from Gourmet. She loves to make her own concoctions in the kitchen so tweaking the recipe to find that perfect balance of sweetness was right up her alley. I do not know that it’s advisable to cut the sugar because our jam isn’t a super thick consistency, but it’s delicious nonetheless! The flavor is heavenly and my kids will enjoy it on toast and swirled into yogurt for many months to come! It would even be great on ice cream. We doubled the Gourmet recipe. Mostly I’m writing down what we did here so I will remember for next year!
Quick Strawberry Jam
2 lbs sliced fresh strawberries, pureed
1 c. raw organic sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
4 Tablespoons freezer pectin
4 teaspoons lemon juice
Wash, slice and weigh berries. Puree until fairly smooth in food processor. Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, for about five minutes. Ladle into 7 pint jars and freeze until ready to use
At the end of the night I was left with a mountain of dishes, ruby red juice on every surface and a lone a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries begging to be used. I created these strawberries and cream overnight protein oats.
To much more summer sweetness to come!
Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats
1 cup old-fashioned oats (gluten-free or regular)
1 cup plus a little more almond milk (I used Califa unsweetened vanilla)
! cup fresh strawberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Bob’s Red Mill Vegan Vanilla Protein)
a pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
Stir all the ingredients together in a covered glass dish and let sit overnight. In the morning, add a little dollop of fresh jam (or even PB!) and enjoy! Serves two.