The Very Berry Month of May

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Spring has sprung and its time for  the gift of freshness from the gardens.  Growing up on the farm we had two gardens,  one was small close to the house and the other was very large on the other side of an old barn.  In the small garden at the start of growing season, it had peas, strawberries, and an asparagus patch.  At the edge of the garden, there were two rhubarb plants. rhubarbplant

 

 

 

Then the garden would be planted with carrots, beats, beans, and peppers.  As kids, weeding and picking peas and shelling them was a drag, but we loved eating what was grown.  We understood the importance of the garden and the responsibilities that came with it.  My mom would either freeze or can what was harvested for the winter months. The one thing I remember about the rhubarb was being told not to touch or eat the big green leaves because they would make you sick, but the red stalk that looked like celery was edible. (I would always wonder what poor soul figured this out)

 

We had a silly dog named Ralphie (she was a terrier that found her way to our house, and was named ralph before we knew he was a she.)  Ralphie loved to eat peas and strawberries.  I have to say she would not steal out of our buckets but pick her own.  The crazy thing was she would pick what was ripe and made sure she did not hurt the plants.

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My other memory was dipping the raw rhubarb in sugar and eating it.  Truly this was something only a child would love sour and sweet. My brother and I were eating sour patch kids before it was popular. Years and years later I remember my two nephews doing the same things, and I took a bite  and thought to myself what were we thinking….LOL rhubarb

 

 

 

 

Below you will find recipes for two kinds of pie and jams.  Remember with the jams if you don’t want to cook them after you have jarred and sealed them, you can either put them directly in the refrigerator or freezer.  And remember you must sterilize the  jelly jars, seals and lids.  You will find more directions in the box of jars.

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Thank you and enjoy everything that is in season! KK

 

Strawberry rhubarb Rhubarb Jam

4 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 in pieces
4 1/2 cup fresh strawberries cleaned and halved
6 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
20 4-oz canning jars with lids and rings

Directions
Mix rhubarb and sugar in a large heavy pot and let stand for 2 hours; stir in lemon juice and strawberries. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set heat to medium-high and cook jam at a full rolling boil until thickened, stirring often to prevent scorching, 20 to 25 minutes. A candy thermometer inserted into the middle of the jam, not touching the pot, should read 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).

Remove jam from heat and stir for 2 to 3 more minutes; skim off any foam.

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the jam into the sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids and screw on rings.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Let jars stand on wire racks for 24 hours to cool and seal. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all).
Strawberry Jam

yield 5 cups of jam

2 pounds fresh Strawberries hulled
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups white sugar

Directions
In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.
Tips:

To test for jelling
Place three plates in a freezer… after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate… if it doesn’t try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it’s ready to be canned!

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling:
2 1/2 cups chopped red rhubarb, fresh
2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in larger pieces)
1 1/2 cups sugar (1 1/4 cups for high altitude)
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Large granule sugar
Filling Preparation:
Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, zest and juice of lemon, dash of cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix well in a large bowl and pour out into chilled crust. Dot the top of the filling with the butter. Brush edges of pie crust with egg white wash. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling. Crimp to seal edges. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar. Collar with foil and bake at 425 degrees F or 220 C for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F or 190 C and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling. Higher altitude will take 450 degrees F or 230 C and 400 degrees F or 200 C respectively. Don’t forget to put small slits in the top crust for steam to escape.  Also, you can use a pie bird for extra decor. Let cool before serving. This is great served ala mode with french French vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Pie

9” Baked Pie Shell pre baked
1 quart Strawberries cut in half or in thirds (set aside)
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 Tablespoon of corn starch
2 Tablespoons of small pearl minute tapioca
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup of water

in In a sauce pan, combine sugar, corn starch, minute tapioca, lemon juice and water. Stir over low heat until everything is dissolved and thick. Remove from heat and cool. Place the strawberries in the crust and pour the  jell over top and refrigerate until set. Top with whipped cream and serve. Note: I like to toss and coat the strawberries with some of the jell to evenly coat them before placing the strawberries in pie shell and then top with the remaining jell.

Tip: If jell is not thick enough, add 3 tablespoons of strawberry Jello during the cooking process and cook until it is dissolved.

Ingredients for Never Fail Pie Crust: this recipe makes enough dough for 2 double crust pies or 4 single pies.

3 cups Flour ( all-purpose is fine to use but my preference is bread flour)
1 teaspoon  salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 cup of Lard or Butter
1 whole egg (Room Temperature)
1/2 cup of Ice cold milk
1 Tablespoon of Vinegar

Procedure for making of the crust:
I do this by hand but you can use a food processor:  combine all  the dry ingredients together, now cut in the fat until  the mixture looks like corn meal.  Whisk your the egg and vinegar together and add to the mixture along with the milk and mix until if it forms a ball.  Cut the dough into four equal pieces, form into balls and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.

Note: I make my dough a day ahead.

Baking of the Crust:  Preheat Oven to 375 F.  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch, deep glass pie dish.  Fold dough edge over and crimp decoratively, securing dough edge to rim of dish.  Pierce crust all over with fork.  Freeze crust 15 minutes. Place baking beads on the bottom of the crust then bake 30 minutes until golden brown. Once baked put on rack and cool and prepare your filling.

Note: If you do not have baking beads, you can do follow one of these following tips. 1. Place Foil on the bottom of the crust and pour a bag of dried beans on top and bake. Carefully remove the foil in the last 5 minutes of baking so the center can get a golden brown color. 2. You can press back any bubbles that occur during the baking process with a fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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