Strawberries are in season, have you noticed? I bought nine quarts this weekend and we just have a few left. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to strawberries. We eat them plain, on shortcake, on waffles, or in this lemonade. I always want to do something fun and unique with them but they just don’t last that long.
I’m planning on getting more and making strawberry freezer jam. It’s so easy and so delicious. When I was a kid we grew strawberries in our garden. Mom, how many plants did you have? In my mind we had around 300 plants. Strawberries come on at the end of May and last for a few weeks. During that time we would pick, sort, and sell berries. The money went into our vacation fund.
My mom would send us four older kids out to the strawberry patch in the dewy morning to pick berries before the weather got too hot and muggy. I’ll be the first to admit that these mornings of berry-picking weren’t exactly how I wanted to spend the first days of summer vacation; my siblings agreed. There were three long rows of berries to be picked. My older sister and I each had a row and my younger brother and sister worked on a row together. When our row was done we were free to go; the amount of time we spent picking berries largely depended on how motivated we were.
My older sister and I were fairly quick; we bit the bullet, got the job done, and were able to move on to something else. My younger brother and sister however didn’t always go about the chore with this same mentality. Tyler and Sarah (the younger siblings) had a love-hate relationship when they were younger. They couldn’t stand to be apart and they couldn’t stand to be together most of the time, and berry-picking really brought out the worst in this relationship.
Sarah hates grasshoppers, and Indiana grows some of the biggest ones I’ve seen. Tyler would catch grasshoppers by the wings and throw them at Sarah while we were out picking berries. Just imagine, being bent over looking for glimpses of red hiding in all that green and having a giant bug bounce off your back. Every third throw would land one in her hair; those critters have seriously sticky legs. She would freak out, run screaming and sobbing into my mom, Mom would come out and yell at Tyler, Sarah would resume picking her end of the row, and then the whole process would start over. Tyler spent more time chasing grasshoppers than he did picking strawberries. Sarah was known to err on the side of dramatic and Tyler was relentless; a terrible combination.
Tyler and Sarah could take hours to finish their row. Hours. Tyler thought it was hilarious, Sarah still has bug issues, and I’m sure Mom was ready to pull her hair out and pick the strawberries herself most days. My older sister and I largely ignored the process. It wasn’t our problem.
Strawberries will forever remind me of long hours in a berry batch, eating every fifth berry, listening to my sister scream and my brother laugh his head off. Isn’t childhood great?
Strawberry Lemonade Slushies
2 cups whole strawberries, washed and stems removed, about a 1/2 quart
3 cups ice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 cup water
Throw everything in the blender and let ‘er rip! Let the blender run for a minute or so to make sure all the ice is chopped up. If things are too thick and not processing, add a little more water. After the mixture is smooth, taste it. I love mine tart, and will normally start with 1/4 cup of sugar and work my way up, depending on how sweet the strawberries were and my mood. If you need a little more sugar, add a tablespoon or two and reprocess to combine. Do this until the slushie is to your liking. Serve right away.
If I make more than we are in the mood to drink, I throw the extras in the kids’ popsicle molds and freeze to make strawberry lemonade popsicles. They are amazing.
Frozen or fresh strawberries can be used.