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Picking and Preserving Seasonal Strawberries

June 13, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, many of my Facebook friends were posting about a local U-pick farm named “4 Got-N-Tymes Farm” where they were getting fresh strawberries. Even better, they were posting beautiful pictures of the jams, shortcakes, and tarts that were being made with the strawberries, and that’s when I got seriously interested in getting some bulk strawberries.


I had never gone to a U-pick farm before, other than apple orchards, but hey, picking strawberries seemed like it might be fun for my 2 ½ year old son Zachary, so we headed out to Louisa, Kentucky, following the strawberry signs, to 4 Got N Tymes Farm for some novice bulk strawberry picking.

I had no idea what to expect, since the only strawberries I had ever seen growing “live” were from a messy patch in my backyard which was planted by the people who lived in my house before we moved in, but 4 Got N Tymes Farm was wonderfully organized. Long rows of strawberry plants were separated by aisles with straw spread so it wasn’t muddy at all. The farm itself was peaceful and lovely- tucked away in a quiet hollow with fields of raspberries, blueberries, and vegetables for all-summer U-picking fun. Even better, the strawberries absolutely glowed with red ripeness and tasted of sweetness and springtime.

strawberry fields

Zachary definitely had a learning curve for picking as he seemed fascinated by the green strawberries, but once he got the hang of it, he sat down between the rows with me and helped fill a couple of buckets quickly with juicy red strawberries, while also tasting a few along the way.


When we went inside to pay for our bounty, I talked to the owner a bit to tell him about The Wild Ramp, and to let him know that strawberries were flying off our shelves almost as soon as they arrived. Later that week, he showed up down at the market and is now one of our vendors, so if you don’t have time to go pick your own, you can come down to The Wild Ramp and buy from the same farm- last week they were even available in bulk baskets for $20 for around 4-5 pounds. Over the rest of the growing season, 4 Got N Tymes Farm will be providing The Wild Ramp with blueberries, raspberries, and vegetables as well as these early strawberries, so come down and see what’s in season!

When I got home with over 10 pounds of berries, the true challenge began- how to deal with them all. Drooling, I started looking up recipes. First on my plate was to use our bread machine, which has a “jam” setting, to make some freezer jam, just because I had never tried that setting. That part was super-easy- all I had to do was wash the berries in a colander, then take off the green “hats”, and throw the strawberries into the food processor. My son helped- with some more taste-testing, and pushing the button on the food processor- until we had 3 cups of crushed berries. The next step was even easier- I poured our 3cups of crushed berries and 4 ½ cups of sugar in the bread machine and Zachary hit the button again, for jam, and we walked away until it was done! Once the cycle was complete, I spooned it in mason jars and stowed it away in the freezer, after tasting. It was absolutely delicious! If you have a bread machine sitting in a cabinet in your kitchen somewhere, you really should check to see if it has a “jam” setting because after using it once, I am completely enamored!
When I was researching recipes on The Wild Ramp’s Pinterest site, I also found a strawberry chocolate sauce recipe that could be canned. Hello? Chocolate?!

I followed her directions, using Valrhona cocoa because I had some in my pantry. I ended up with 4 pints, and canned them in half-pint and quarter-pint jars, intending to use them for gifts, but was informed by my husband in no uncertain terms that we really ought to keep these for our home pantry- and that next year we probably should make at least double the recipe! Enjoy!

strawberries 006

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 11:55 am

    Loved this article. Last year I planted around 60 strawberry plants in raised beds and babied them all fall and winter covering them with straw and in the spring taking the straw away around May 15 and was rewarded with lots and lots of beautiful berries. Enough to give away some to friends and family. We also canned around 10 pints of jam and froze around 40 lbs. Great investment and so rewarding.

    • June 13, 2013 5:35 pm

      Thanks, Chris. I think “rewarding” is the perfect word for picking and preserving. And my friends and family really appreciate the goods they get as gifts… almost as much as we do, when we open up the jars in the winter and get that whiff of fresh summer fruit!

  2. June 13, 2013 3:38 pm

    I love this too! Thanks for the great guide. I can’t wait to try the strawberry chocolate sauce!

  3. June 13, 2013 5:37 pm

    Patti, Thanks! The strawberry chocolate sauce was really simple to make and can, and absolutely delectable! We had some on Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and, well, YUM!

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