Monday, 5 January 2015
Freezing Strawberries for use in Winter Months ... and Recipe for Meringues with Whipped Ricotta and Strawberries
This post is being submitted to Harvest Monday hosted weekly by Daphne's Dandelions which shows what gardeners are harvesting each week and also how they use their harvest.
Although I have nothing to harvest right now, I do have some of my previous harvests available from frozen or canned (and the odd item that was dried). The great thing about preserving your harvest is being able to enjoy it in the winter. Especially rhubarb (which is never available in stores during winter months) and strawberries. Strawberries can be found year-round but are almost always tasteless and hard when not in season. So it is always a treat to pull out of my freezer strawberries that were frozen when at their peak.
As it happens, the strawberries aren't mine. I had poor results and have since pulled up the whole patch and transplanted just a dozen or so into a new space. But I went to a pick-your-own nearby my home and froze a couple of litres worth.
If you are just going to make jam or otherwise cook the strawberries, it is not necessary to follow this technique. But taking the following steps will provide some benefits: (1) strawberries can be placed in one large bag and easily separated if you only need a few - maybe a smoothie or this strawberry lassi - and (2) they will retain their shape after they have been thawed. Another benefit is that you don't have to use any sugar to safely preserve them as you might with other techniques.
Here is the simple technique to freeze strawberries:
Step 1: Gently wash the strawberries and pat them dry (or just let them air dry)
Step 2: Remove any that are damaged or bruised
Step 3: Hull the berries
Step 4: Place on a parchment lined baking sheet so they do not touch
Step 5: Freeze until solid individually
Step 6: Place in freezer bags - store up to 6 months (beyond that they will be at risk for freezer burn and that would be a shame!)
Read on for the Recipe ...
Meringues with Whipped Ricotta and Strawberries
I made these meringues a month or so ago as I had planned on topping them with grapefruit curd and pomegranate arils and taking them to a potluck at work. But I didn't like the way the grapefruit curd turned out so I popped them in the freezer. I found them alongside the frozen strawberries this weekend and decided to do something with them together.
Small meringues (see below)
200 ml container ricotta
12 oz frozen (thawed) or fresh strawberries
Maple syrup to taste
Puree the ricotta in a food processor first. Then add the strawberries and continue to puree. Add 2-3 Tbsp of maple syrup to sweeten the mix (keep in mind the meringues will add sweetness to the overall dessert).
Spoon some of the mixture into the middle of a meringue. Serve immediately or keep chilled until served. When serving, sprinkle with icing sugar or top with fresh strawberries.
Preheat over to 250 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a clean, dry bowl, beat 3 egg whites lightly. Continue to beat while gradually adding 3/4 cup white sugar. Beat until they form a stiff peak (can hold their shape when you hold the bowl upside down!).
Spoon 2 Tbsp onto the parchment paper forming a circular mound. With slightly dampened fingers, press down any peaks that are formed so they don't burn during cooking.
Bake for about 1 hour, until firm.