What did I do this weekend? Saturday morning started out with the farmer's market. Which dictated most of my activities for the rest of the weekend. I bought half a flat of strawberries (much more manageable than the whole flat I was buried under last summer), two pounds of spinach, and two bunches of rhubarb. Along with the usual eggs, honey, and potatoes.
The flat of strawberries turned into three quarts of frozen whole strawberries, seven half-pint jars of jam, one batch of strawberry rhubarb muffins and two quarts left for eating or more baking. One tip for freezing berries is to spread them out on a baking tray and freeze them this way, and once they're frozen, put them into bags (or other containers). That way they won't all stick together when they're frozen and get all juicy. You can just grab a handful of frozen berries if you don't want to defrost the entire bag. For the jam, I used the same recipe as last year from Putting Food By (equal parts berries and sugar) but I ended up cooking it down for almost an hour. I ended up being right last year with my concern that the jam was too liquidy. It did still taste good, but was more sauce-y than jam-y. This year I made sure to cook it down more so it's much thicker.
I still have a bunch of berries left, so I may venture a new strawberry bread recipe (I'm thinking strawberry-banana bread) for freezing....
It feels so good to get back into preserving for the slower months. Last year I still hadn't gotten away from primarily making jams and other sweet things that were primarily for gift-giving. I certainly love making the jams other gifts (you all know how much I appreciate that come December!), but I have some real plans for doing a better job this year at actually preserving foods that we'll eat ourselves. I'm planning on tomato sauces and canned tomatoes, pickles, frozen zucchini (not just for baking), dried herbs, and maybe even some dried beans. What do you preserve?