Strawberry Field Study, Part II

By Holly Giles | Florida


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 Our  Field Study Part One was about a field trip to the strawberry fields. This season we used the strawberries to make Jam.
Grayson and Grant can get overzealous when it comes to picking berries.They took off down the rows and came back with their shirts full. Before I knew it, we had $30 worth of berries to take home!
Strawberry preserves are always on the menu when we pick berries. It seems to be a best seller at craft fairs and we love to give them as gifts to friends. Our secret to fabulous low sugar, easy preserves is Pomona’s Pectin. discovered it a few years ago on my quest to make preserves with not much sugar.

Grayson and Grant pitch in for the preparation of the preserves.  I love that they enjoy doing kitchen duty with me.  I am soaking it in, I am sure they will hit an age where the last thing they want to do is cook with mom! I do hope they will take away recipes and knowledge to use when they are on their own. I hope their future wives will enjoy it too!!

Having children help with making preserves covers so many areas of cooking and science.  Washing and cutting fruit.  Measuring the fruit, sugar, and water. Mixing the pectin and adding the right measurements at the appropriate times.

How long does it take for the fruit to boil? What causes the foam on the top? What is the process of the reaction of the pectin and the fruit causing it to gel?

Our favorite recipe is in our book,  Blaze New Trails, but here is a simple recipe to get you started.  Otherwise, there are simple recipes on the box or bottle of regular fruit pectin.
Next, I used my food dehydrator to dry strawberries for snacks.  
Grant used an egg slicer to cut one strawberry at a time for uniform size. He placed them on the trays close together.  We did 3 quarts in the dryer. Ours has a setting for fruit. It took about 5 hours to dry.  
Talk about a sweet treat!!

We have found a new snack that might need to hide in the back of the pantry! It is great to have a handy snack that is healthy and portable, but if you eat a quart of dried strawberries in one sitting, it kinda defeats the purpose! I will be imposing a quantity limit for sure.
The food dehydrator is a great source to make healthy snacks. We have since done apples and bananas.  I love the bananas. I do them just when they turn the brown that no one but me will eat! They take about 5 hours also and can be done with the strawberries.  I sprinkled a little cinnamon on them. 
To work in homeschool lessons with the continuation of this field study, we discussed the process of dehydration.  
What is happening with the food?  What does it take to rehydrate? What would be some reasons to dehydrate food?
Homeschooling for us is a lifestyle. We incorporate it into all aspects of our lives.  Cooking is no different.  Grayson and Grant are learning skills hands on that they will remember.  We like to can fruits throughout the year. Each time they learn more. One day, they will have the knowledge to do it themselves or to teach someone else.  For me, that is what home education is all about.


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.

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