FOR BEST FREEZING BERRIES
KNOW THE PICK OF THE CROP
Some strawberry varieties hold up better than others when given the cold shoulder. The characteristics that make one variety a fabulous coice for strawberry shortcake make it not as good of a candidate for cooked preserves or freezer jams.
The most common varieties you'll encounter at farmers markets and U-pick fields in Oregon are the: BENTON A fabulous choice for strawberry shortcake and eating fresh, but tends to fall apart when processed. The color becomes poor when frozen and its integrity is zero, mainly because the acid level is so low.
HOOD A good berry for processing. The fruit is large, bright red and contains a high enough level of acid for good processing, however it has a low enough level of acid that it is considered ideal for fresh eating.
For home growers, it's got a lot of virus problems, so its a tough one to grow.
SHUKSAN The fruit is large; color is glossy and bright red. Flavor is relatively sweet (lower in acid than the Olympus or Rainier), so this seems to be a good all around berry for either processing or eating fresh. One of the favorite cooking and canning varieties.
TOTEM Makes up 70 percent of the acreage in the Pacific Northwest.
It's fairly easy to grow, and is high in quality for processing.
Considered one of the ideal cooking and canning varieties although the color is on the dark side and preserves may not achieve the color you really want.
RAINIER The fruit is large; color is bright red throughout. Flavor doesn't seem to be as acidic as the Olympus. Considered an ideal cooking and canning variety.
OLYMPUS The fruit is on the small side; color is bright red throughout. Flavor is fairly acidic and the texture is realtively firm, so it's good for freezing and making preserves.
PUGET RELIANCE A new variety out of Washington. It's very easy to grown, very virus tolerant and high yielding. the berries are very large, though it can be a little softer than the commercial processors like. It has acceptable color although not as highly colored as a Redcrest, Hood or Totem. Because it's so new, consumers may have a hard time locating it.
REDCREST The Commercial strawberry processors' favorite, although some growers have a real tough time growing it because of it's susceptibility to disease. It's firm, it's colored all the way through very well, it holds up real well - in ice cream, and as a preserve - and it's real acidic, which is good for processing. The acid level may keep some people from enjoying it in its natural state because it is a quite tart berry. However when you add a little sugar, the flavors really come out.
With excellent flavor being a given, acid and stablity are the two most important factors for Commercial processors. The color is more stable in a high acid berry. Without that extra boost of acid, the color can migrate away from red and into gray when heated or frozen.
Source: Preserving by Jan Roberts-Dominguez, The Oregonian FoodDay, June 6, 1995
Typos by Dorothy Flatman
Submitted By DOROTHY FLATMAN On 06-14-95
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