What to do with a lot of Fresh Strawberries

Fisher Hill Farm Fresh Local Strawberry Rochester New York

When strawberries are in season it’s time to think long term.

It’s a short burst of a season marking the true beginning of summer. When school is about to let out the fields are bursting with green and bright red. The aggregate fruit, that it technically not a berry, is one of the most popular crops we offer and usually has the most buzz about it. The season is here now and they are abundant. So how can we make the season last?

Can I freeze fresh strawberries?

Absolutely. You can slice them, crush them, liquefy them or keep them whole. They freeze well. If you do keep them whole, when they thaw they more than likely not act like a strawberry out of the field, but that doesn’t mean they don’t retain the fresh flavor of summer. Freeze them first individually on a sheet pan before transferring to a freezer bag (make sure they are actually freezer bags and not just plastic bags.) Once they are in the plastic bag, close the zip on the bag except for one tiny corner. Insert a straw and suck all the air out that you can before pulling the straw out and closing the bag. This will keep the freezer burn away.

How do you dehydrate a Strawberry?

The first step is to wash them up. Next you have to make sure the stem is removed completely. If you have a dehydrator you can cut them into strips and set it for 135 degrees for 10 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, no problem! Cut them into quarters and place them cut side up on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven on the lowest setting on the top shelf at 200 degrees. If the oven is running hot, crack the door open (but be careful!) This isn’t a perfect science so you may want to move the sheet around the oven a few times and watch how long they’ve been in.

Want to know if your strawberries have been completely dried? Place them in a glass jar about half full for a week, shaking the jar a couple times per day. If you notice condensation showing up the strawberries need a little more drying time.

Canning, Preserving, and Jellies

You can can strawberries but the water takes away from the flavor. There is a way to extract the juice from the strawberries to use as the preservation liquid, but we’ve never tried it and so can’t recommend that. Strawberry preserves and jam are great options and those can later be used in other dishes, like cookies! They keep well in the panty and make great gifts!

The season goes by quick. One of the best times of year is the first time you bite into a fresh local strawberry. The ones we get all winter at the grocery store can curb a craving, but there isn’t a substitute for a fresh local strawberry!

Smoke Box Chicken

One of the great things about the summer months is getting a good barbecue going. We wanted an easy way to get smokehouse chicken without worrying about burning our dinner.

There’s actually two ways you can use this Smoke Box. You can load it up and put it directly on your gas grill or you can get some hot coals and place it on them. We chose to try it that way because it was slightly more adventurous for a blog post! But putting the box on the grill makes it even easier and allows you to choose a temperature.

The smoker box.

The first step is to prepare the raw chicken. We used a store bought barbecue dry rub for the legs. We coated them in the morning and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. For the breast, we poured a little Italian dressing over it and put it in the fridge. Simple preparation is often times the best!

We got our fire going and let it die down to just some hot coals. If you choose to use your grill make sure you preheat it to the desired temp you want to smoke at.

To load the smoke box you soak the wood chips in water about 30 minutes before loading them in the box. Place the wood chips down and then the tray with the meat on it, then close the box up.

The wood chip layer.
The meat goes on top of the wood chips on tray that inserts.
Smoke box goes on top of the coals.

The legs are smaller so they were going to be done a lot sooner. Make sure you use a thermometer to get the cooking temp right. Chicken should be at 180. The legs did cook a bit quicker, but they only took about 45 minutes on the fire before they were done. You could actually smell that they were done and boy oh boy did it smell delicious!

Smoked chicken legs.

We brushed on a little bit of barbecue sauce at the end and let it dry up a little on the leg before taking them off. They were incredible, soaking up a good amount of the smoke flavor without masking the dry rub. The sweet sauce was a nice little addition and added the right amount of sugar to it.

The breast took a bit longer. But we were really thinking that it was going to make excellent sandwiches after it was cold. We were right. It was. But we couldn’t help cutting into it when it was still hot.

Smoked chicken breast on the bone.

Overall this was a tasty experiment. It might be easier to just put the box on the grill and smoke it that way, but it was fun to have a fire and make a bigger even out of it. The chicken was delicious.

We’ll have fresh chicken all summer long for all your grilling and smoking needs!

Come visit us at the market!

When Will We be at the Rochester Public Market on Thursdays Again?

Answers to the most popular questions we have gotten recently.

The market season is back and up and running. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be abundant as the days grow longer from early May straight through Thanksgiving. There’s always a lot of questions each and every year about what everyone should expect. Don’t be shy! Ask away! If we didn’t cover something in this post we’ll be happy to answer any questions left in the comments sections, in person at the markets, or on any of our social media.

When will you start Thursday’s at the Rochester Public Market again?

We can say for certain that the date is June 17th. We will be there through Thanksgiving. We’re usually in the same spot for both Saturday and Thursday. If they need to move us around for any reason we will certainly try and let you know in advance.

When will CSA shares no longer be available?

Officially this year is will be May 1st. We do have a few left and encourage anyone thinking about buying one to do so this year. If you are not familiar with ours, it’s one with choice. You don’t get a pre-filled box once a week, but rather get to choose your own every week when you get to the market. You choose where you want to pick up too!

For more information on our CSA click here.

Will Asparagus be ready soon?

The short answer is yes with an if and the long answer is no, with a but…. We fully expect asparagus to be widely available by Mother’s Day. The weather was cooperative, but then wasn’t and now looks like it’s going to stay warm as long as it doesn’t freeze at night on Fisher Hill. It might come up sooner and be ready, but the first weekend may be limited. Get there early on Saturday mornings!

Do you still have duck available?

It’s frozen, but, yes we do. It takes a few days to fully thaw out from the freeze so you may want to plan a week in advance of cooking it. It’s always best to let it thaw in the refrigerator according to safe food handling rules.

When will fresh chicken be ready?

It’s coming up fast! May 6th. We will do our best to keep fresh chicken available all summer.

Fresh chicken on the grill during the summer.

What else should I know?

Turkey is available. It is frozen. They can take a while to thaw so plan accordingly. We also are out of stewing hens until fall. If you are not familiar with us you can take a look here /https://fisherhillfarm.com/crop-list/ to see what we offer when it is in season. If you have a CSA with us already and have specific questions about your share please let us know so we can help.

Farm fresh eggs all year round

Brighton Market Opens This Weekend; What to expect on our tables and more

Greenhouse Fisher Hill Farm Rochester NY

Hopefully spring is here to stay for a while.

No more snow, now more cold windy days, and only light freezes that barely impact the crops. Its amazing how fast the mornings warm up and a sweatshirt is just right for chores versus just a few weeks ago when winter gear was still needed the whole day through. The wind is getting warmer at the top of the hill and that means spring is here to stay.

Winter season on the farm is wrapping up quick. We are tying up loose ends before the summer season gets into full swing. It won’t be long. We are working on the last of the egg laying house expansion this week. We have been adding on to each laying hen house so we can accommodate more birds to cover the egg needs in the main season. We have some tractor maintenance to get done too and then its time to get planting. 

On March 23rd we panted the first peas of the season. They are just starting to break through the soil. By the end of the week they should make nice straight lines down the field.

The garlic is growing really fast too. Only 14 days between the two photos!

The greenhouse is in full swing and half full. So far peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and okra have been planted. Onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, lettuce, chard, kale, and beets have been started by other greenhouse for us. it is at first a slow process, but it goes quick. Once things break ground anyway.

Greenhouse Fisher Hill Farm Rochester NY
Greenhouse Fisher Hill Farm Rochester NY

Chickens have been started so we can have them fresh every week starting May 8th. We get chicks every other week all summer so we can have fresh chicken for the market. We raise extra each week that we freeze so we can sell them all throughout the winter. We make sure they have as much free reign as possible and they have a steady diet of 100% GMO free and locally milled feed that is to our specifications.

Locally Grown Chicken at Fisher Hill Farm Rochester New York
Chicks getting accustomed to the new barn.

The Brighton Market is starting early this year. This Sunday April 11th to be exact. It will be nice to see everyone again and to get back into the regular swing of the markets. We’ll have a full table this Sunday for you and a similar one for the next few until the new crops break and ripen. We will keep you informed as much as we can so you can plan your shopping.

This week expect:

Micro Greens (spicy, radish, pea, sunflower)

Carrots, Parsnips, Onions, Potatoes, Rutabaga, Kohlrabi, Beets, Celeriac

Frozen Chicken, Frozen Chicken Liver, hearts, and feet, Frozen Turkey, Frozen Duck

Eggs

You can expect something similar at the Rochester Public Market on Saturday.

Hang in there! The season is about to break wide open in the next couple weeks. Coming soon will be scapes, asparagus, rhubarb, fresh chicken, and so much more. It’s been a long winter, but the payoff is a beautiful spring and summer.

Brighton New York Farmers Market Tent Set Up

Crop Report: Spring 2021

Fisher Hill Farm Crop Report

Spring in Western New York is underway and that means it is busy on the farm. Planting starts in the greenhouse in the germination chamber in the winter, but it doesn’t feel like spring until those plants move outdoors.

We’ve also had the opportunity to install new plastic on the hen brooding house. This will allow the broody hens to keep warm and dry as we still have plenty of cool nights ahead of us and many April Showers. But we’re confident we have the perfect spot built for them.

Lots of smaller repairs and projects have kept us busy right up until now. We’ve started to see some green out in the fields!

Here’s what’s happening:

Garlic is just coming up and is looking great. Well drained soil is needed for garlic to grow. Any standing water could actually rot the bulb before it has a chance to grow. We grow ours in mounds covered in plastic mulch so the weeds won’t grow up and take away vital nutrients. Garlic is a member of the allium family which includes onions, chives, leeks, scallions, and shallots. We also grow all of those vegetables on the farm too!

Fisher Hill Farm Garlic
Fisher Hill Farm Garlic

Peppers are ready to come out of the germination chamber. Peppers take very little time to sprout for the most part but need lots of maturation time. Most sweet peppers can take up to 3 months before they’re ready for the market. Some hot peppers take even longer. Always worth the wait. Peppers are popular in almost every dish around the world. Honestly, we like them raw and eat them out of the fields like apples!

Tomatoes are ready to be potted soon. Besides strawberries, tomatoes might be the next most popular veggie we grow. Tomatoes need a good amount of water and love to be nice and warm in the sunlight. They always take prime real estate on the farm, but it’s always worth it in the long run.

Eggplant is ready to be potted soon. The coarse and leathery leaves can easily withstand the hot summer weather. They can grow to be quite large if the conditions are right. In fact the largest eggplant ever was over 6lbs! The strangest fact about eggplants are that they are technically a berry by botanical definition.

The first planting of peas went into the ground. The true sign of spring. The first peas that come out of the field always taste sweeter than we can remember. Peas can be easily frozen and last a long time in the freezer. That is if you don’t eat them all before you get home.

Fresh chicken is back for this week and next week. We have had plenty of frozen but just ran out! Having these birds ready was the perfect timing. They work great for the grill and with a little luck, you could fire up the barbecue this weekend and have a great meal. With this comes liver and hearts too. If you have never tried hearts before, we have a recipe for chicken heart yakitori here. Try it out!

So, what does all this mean?

Well for one, it means spring is here and that’s super exciting. But most of all it means that we’re getting into the swing of things again. We still have a few CSA shares left. They can include fresh eggs and chicken all summer too. There are a few different pricing options and lots of pick up locations. You can check all that out here.

We try to maintain this blog throughout the spring and summer to bring you up to date information on how the fields are doing. We don’t always get to it! But it does provide you with information as to what is coming into season next and what to expect on our tables. If you’re new to our farm here’s what we bring with us to the farmer’s market and what is available with our CSA shares as well.

Here’s some examples of past crop reports. These will cue you in on what will be in season and when:

July 2018 – Sweet Corn

June 2019 = Peas and Strawberries

October 2020 = Harvest Time

Fisher Hill Farm Hen Brood