Monday, July 11, 2011

Struggles With Strawberries

It started with this: a deluge of strawberries. An avalanche - a surplus - an overabundance - an excess - a plethora.

A glut, even.

This happy state of affairs comes from not doing what I should have done last year (and the year before), which was pruning off the suckers the plants sent out. And because I am unable to dispose of a plant once it's in the garden (unless it's a weed), I did something rather unadvisable: I left them to multiply all over the garden.

This is great when you're going from 20 plants to 40 plants; this is not great when you're going from 150 plants to 300, which is more in line with what we've got going on out back. People come over and tell me "Wow, you really DO have too many strawberries."

This is me with my strawberries.

We picked them once; we picked them twice; we even picked them three and four times. But they keep coming. The kids have started to hide when I say "Hey, guys, can you help me —?" The freezer is filling up with strawberries in various states of mush and slice; there are 15 quarts of jam on the pantry shelves. We all have Strawberry Arm, too: a condition resulting from too much time immersing one's arms amongst strawberry leaves, resulting in a mild, itchy rash-like condition stretching from the wrist to the elbow (don't know if you'll find it in medical terminology dictionaries, but it DOES exist, trust me).

So I've started to do something I don't normally do: I'm trying variations of recipes.

We had strawberry shortcakes, with whipped cream and heaps of sliced berries. Our shortcakes ranged from hard and biscuit-like to soft and spongey.

We had meringues and fool, which are so good you might actually die of delight, according to Dominic. This dessert involves individual meringues baked in the shape of a giant Kiss, then side-dressed with a gently folded mixture of whipped cream and the foam you get when you skim (strawberry) jam.

We ate them in smoothies. We ate them by themselves. We even watched the squirrel nesting in the pine tree carry them off. No one stirred at this point. We were all relieved to see someone else picking them, I think.

Then I had a brain-wave, brought on in part by the lack of sun this summer: I would make strawberry popsicles.

These are easy, provided you have popsicle molds. Simply purée the berries, add some sweetener (I used icing sugar), maybe some yogurt (tried both ways, prefer it without), then pour them into the molds to freeze.

You will end up with this, a glistening, glittering, shimmering mass of glowing ruby redness.

It tastes good too.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I cannot believe that a huge harvest of strawberries can in any way be thought of as a problem! You could always ship some to me if you're desperate.
They are about the only fruit that all my kids like to eat.

Heather said...

Shelia, I was just thinking about you while I was making dinner and hoping all was well because you've been so quiet lately, then I turned the computer on and there you were in bloglines. ;-)

We've been going strawberry crazy here too, unfortunately not with our own homegrown but the local berry patch makes do in a pinch. Have you tried cormeal strawberry shortcake. It's a little different but also lovely. I have some strawberries sliced up in a bowl on the counter for making homemade icecream for tonight...and I'd better get at it because it takes 2 hours.

Oooh, we also eat them for breakfast sliced up and alternated with granola and yogurt (organic greek honey yogurt from Costco - my husband bought it last week and it is a new favourite) and banana slices too sometimes - sort of a parfait, I guess.

Samantha said...

"My diamonds are too heavy."
"I get too many love letters from Bradley Cooper."
"I have too many strawberries."

What do all of these statements have in common? It's hard for me to feel sympathy for anyone with these problems, especially when I am fighting the birds for the meagre output of strawberries I'm getting this year.
I wish I lived closer so I could help you out dear Sheila, I really do. I would gladly take bucket loads off your hands.

That popsicle looks delicious by the way.

sheila said...

Well, S, my diamonds ARE too heavy, I'll have you know. Just as heavy as my strawberries. My 70lbs of strawberries, cough cough....

Come on over girls, I will happily share ALL I have. And I mean that sincerely. I have a LOT of berries at this point. If you can pick them , you can have them. I'll even make you tea and sympathy afterwards. (unless you'd prefer a gin and tonic)

Samantha said...

Yes I have 70 lbs of strawberries, but I had to pay for them! I had to get in my car, drive to the farm, pick them, and then pay for them! I couldn't just wander around my yard in my pajamas every morning, collecting deliciously sweet red orbs of happiness until my bucket overflowed. Sob.

Still no sympathy here. But so wish I could do a road trip right now (as always)