Welcome to A Tranquil Nook Blog

We welcome you to follow along on our crafty adventures. Frank is a farmer by day, jewelry and hand braided cord-maker by night. Jane simply fiddles with fabric and fiber any time she can. We share things about what we make, how we make it, where you can get it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Freezing Fresh Picked Strawberries

Strawberries in season, picked that day are delightful, still one can only eat so many (very many, true) but only so many berries in one day. Is there a way to save and savor some of that goodness over the long Minnesota winter? Oh YES! and it is really not too hard.
*** If I do it with food, rest assured it is not very difficult.***

Lin of Abbie's Acres at market July 9, 2011
at Bemidji's Natural Choice Farmers Market

First, let me admit, I do not pick or grow strawberries. I look to Abbie's Acres for all our berry needs. The story that follows is what happened with the flat of berries Frank purchased Saturday.

Keep the berries as fresh as can be by putting the flat into a refreshing cold box. During the summer, we keep a cooler in the car, along with reusable totes for groceries, etc. Even a short time in a hot car can be hard on fruits, veggies, eggs.

Once home, pop them into the refrigerator. I was way to tired Saturday evening to deal with even just 1 flat of berries.
However next morning at the crack of dawn, while Mr was still fast asleep, the berries got a cold bath. Popped off the green with a pointy grapefruit spoon. A few minutes of draining in colander. Then onto a metal jelly roll pan, with space between each berry.
Berries that are extremely ripe, or a bit bruised go into the "to eat now" tub, all the rest on trays to freeze.
I work one tray at a time. Cleaning a little over a quart, arrange on tray, and into the freezer they go. In not very long, there were 5 filled trays in the freezer.Leave the berries on the trays for 12 to 24 hours. You want the berries to be frozen solid, like hard marbles. Then package them in bags of appropriate size for your family. Squeeze as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. One flat made 7 very full pint bags of frozen summer. I mean frozen strawberries.

Tray freezing works well at our house. I started out years ago using 2 jelly roll pans and various other pans, cake pans, cookie sheets - you know, what was available. Over the years we acquired more jelly roll pans because they are so convenient for tray freezing. That little edge is a marvel at keeping fruit/vegetables from sliding off, and the size fits perfectly in our side-by-side refrigerator-freezer. We also got some rubber coated stands, cut the legs shorter to make risers between trays. Allows for great air flow and fast freezing with no smushing or touching. Do rinse the trays off as you take frozen berries off, then wash and dry all trays when done. Otherwise, you might develop rusty trays.

During summer one shelf of the freezer is reserved for tray freezing. I like this method for most all the fruits and veggies we freeze. The food freezes thoroughly, and when coming out of the packages, if you want just a bit, say 3 to 4 berries, they come easily. Because each was frozen individually they do not meld into one huge mass of berries.

So when you want a sweet treat, and candy is calling, taking out one frozen berry, may curb that lust and keep you on a healthier track. You can also put a few berries in yogurt or add into a bowl of mixed fruit.

We like mixed fruit for salad or for desert. Start with home canned peaches, put about 1 pint of peaches and juice in a bowl, slice in a couple of fresh oranges, perhaps an apple, maybe some home canned pears; add the tray frozen fruit cherries, raspberries, strawberries, last but not least some sliced banana. Actually, whatever fruit combinations you prefer and what is available fresh or from your shelves or freezer. To tie it all together, the piece de resistance is to stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of homemade jelly. Orange marmalade is great. Citrus jams, high bush cranberry jelly or jam, and current jelly are all delicious and enhance a fruit mix.

So simple and easy, preparation and storage; plus simple and easy to get out and use. Good tasting, actually delicious. YEP! that all works at Tranquility Pastures. Maybe it will work for you too.

Thanks for reading,

Enjoy!
Jane

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Spirit

Enjoying our freedoms today and also thinking of John Kennedy's "“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Let us each find and make ways, large or small, to promote respect, peace, happiness, safety and well being for all. Living together, sharing the load, sharing the joys.

Bringing you some memories from childhood of watching Kate Smith on one of the evening music shows. Was it Author Godfrey? She still sounds good to me.


How did kids such as I go from this to anti-war protests, believing in social justice, human rights and so much more? Well, this actually inspired it. Believing that we do live in a grand and wonderful place, and that we each participate in making it better, healthier, friendlier. Thanks to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr, Joan Baez, "Hair", and many others; even our parents and the "establishment" who provided us the time, the schooling, the belief in ourselves to go out and make changes.

We did a lot. We need to do more. Little by little, lot by lot.

Jane