What have I done with them all? Well, I've made 6 jars of jam (3 of them are for my daughters' teachers), I've frozen 5 large bags of them for winter use, I've made smoothies for breakfast every day, I've made a pie, bread pudding, used some in oatmeal, with my yogurt and granola, had lots of spinach and strawberry salads, raw on their own or with sugar on top as a treat and, finally, in my new favorite drink - strawberry-rhubarb lemonade.
Making strawberry-rhubarb lemonade is a free-form type of recipe. It's really hard to pin down the measurements and such because I typically throw everything into a pot and adjust the flavour as I go. I begin by putting a two-to-one mix of strawberries to rhubarb. To that I add some sugar and add enough water to cover the fruit. Simmer until the fruit has softened and then put the mixture through a sieve to separate the chunks from the syrup. Let the syrup cool. Add the juice of 3-4 lemons and fill up the container with water. Taste and adjust the sugar if needed. The leftover chunks are great as a topping for ice cream or on toast. Don't let them go to waste.
On the weekend we fed our strawberry addiction by going to Heeman's to pick our own berries. Typically, I'll pick up my flats at the main greenhouse but I like going out at least once a season to pick some ourselves. Heeman's is definitely my farm of choice. I've been getting my berries there for a couple of years now and have recently had the opportunity to meet many members of their family.
Will, one of the Heeman's, is the man behind the tweets on Twitter (@Heemans). He is very involved with the family business and has done a great job promoting the farm this year. I think he's been in every local paper, on the radio, and even on TV. Gotta spread the word on the Ontario strawberry!
His most recent news? Raspberries are now available! And cherries are not too far behind; they'll be available by this weekend. Although they aren't grown at the farm, Heeman's sells many different local fruits and berries (as well as potatoes and corn) throughout the season. I love this because I know that I can make a stop over there any time I need to stock up on my fruits without having to wait for my market run on Saturdays. Besides, they have the best prices in town in my opinion.
I think that one of their best kept secrets is that they have strawberries available until mid-October!! Most people are under the assumption that Ontario strawberries are only around for a limited time in June. Not so! It depends on the variety. Yes, there are some varieties that only grow in June, but there are others that grow into late Summer/early Fall too. They have them! Although the pick-your-own is only open for a limited time, ready-picked strawberries can be bought at the greenhouse until the end of the season.
There was a lot of excitement out on the fields while I was there. Everyone around me was talking about how great the berries tasted and how big they were this year. It's so much fun to watch people eat their first Ontario strawberry of the season. Their eyes just light up when they realize how much better these berries are to the imported ones they've been eating all winter. It's the moment they realize what strawberries are supposed to taste like. Yay for Ontario strawberries!!
My daughter feels the same way...
To check on berry availability or for some great strawberry recipes check out their website at http://www.heeman.ca/ . They've added a couple of my recipes on their site. Can you guess which ones they are?