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Local strawberries are at the markets: Load up and bake muffins

Delicious local strawberries.
Delicious local strawberries.

Strawberry season is upon us and luckily today is farmers market day.

There really is nothing like a perfectly ripe, sweet strawberry just picked from a local garden. Lucky for us, we have farmers galore that share their delicious pickings at the markets and fruit and veggie stands.

There are so many wonderful ways to use this pretty berry. I love slicing them onto my salads, especially fresh spinach salad, with goat cheese and sliced almonds. Since strawberries also freeze well, do make sure to load up and then hull and freeze to have on hand for baking and smoothies in the off season. My dear Auntie Pat shared a strawberry trick that she learned in Australia for a hot summer day: Drop a frozen strawberry into your glass of wine or bubbles – it looks beautiful and keeps it cool.

I have a large bowl of strawberries macerating in the fridge right now with a vanilla bean to make strawberry-vanilla jam later today. If you don’t feel like making jam the old-fashioned way, why not try a batch of freezer jam? Easy and delicious, it is a great way to capture the freshness of the season to enjoy in the winter months (recipe below). I also love this muffin recipe shared by my friend Dawn Lennie years ago.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Muffins

4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 ½ Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppyseeds
1 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen strawberries, roughly chopped

Measure dry ingredients.  Add strawberries and toss to coat.
Combine eggs, melted butter, buttermilk & vanilla.  Fold with dry ingredients- this should be heavy batter consistency.  Don’t over mix.  Divide equally amongst 15 greased muffin tins. 
Bake at 350 for approximately 25-30 minutes.

Low-Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam

Crush 8 cups (2 L) strawberries as above. Stir in 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) sugar; let stand for 15 minutes. Stirring constantly, gradually add 1 pouch (45 g) Freezer Jam Pectin; stir for 3 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into five 1-cup (250 mL) containers, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) headspace. Cover with lids. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year.

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