FEELING PRETTY GOOD ABOUT MYSELF as I receive loads of positive feedback via twitter and instagram after posting a picture of my strawberry and coconut milk ice pops, created from hulled strawberry top leftovers – leftovers that I would have otherwise tossed in the bin. Seems I am not the only one out there overcome by guilt when staring down at a sink full of green stems with just a bit of strawberry meat still attached.
This past weekend my little ladies and I picked nearly 5 pounds of fresh, perfectly ripe strawberries from a small farm down the road. I just love this farm; owned and operated by an elderly German couple that really only sell strawberries, squash and pumpkins during peak seasons, the love they share for their land is palpable. It feels good to know our money is being invested in a family’s independent passions. Plus, they have the best berries, and I always walk away with an “old family secret” recipe from the Grandmother – who seems to sense my love of food and is always so eager to talk to me about it. I love her.
Anyhow, my girls and I lugged home our baskets full of berries to begin the cleaning (and eating) process. Well, hulling 4 pounds of strawberries quickly grew very dull. As I became increasingly bored, my slices grew wider, resulting in more strawberry meat dropping into the kitchen sink, creating more waste. Now, I’ve tried the hulling technique of poking a straw through the bottom of the berry and ”popping” only the stem off but – although it looks pretty awesome on Pinterest – it doesn’t work for me. So I kept my practice and began pondering what to do with the wasted berry tops.
Hmmmm.. what if I boiled them for a strawberry simple syrup?
I tossed all of the strawberry tops into a medium-sized sauce pan and added just enough water to cover. Brought to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
Then I strained the boiled tops into a large measuring cup to see exactly how much “juice” I was working with. I decided on a 1:1 ratio of sugar to strawberry juice, so added my 1 ½ cups of juice to 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar to the rinsed out saucepan I had been using.
At this point the strawberry stems are sitting in the bin, drained of all flavour and nutrients, and my guilt falls away.
I brought the sweetened mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, until sugar had dissolved. Took it off the heat and let it sit in a glass pitcher on the counter top until it had cooled completely. A quick taste test and it was verified, i had made a killer strawberry simple syrup with the hulled strawberry tops I would have otherwise composted. The waste guilt has officially been replaced by that nice sense of kitchen pride.
But my creative juices were still flowing…
I could have just poured this intensely strawberry-sweet flavoured syrup over some ice, with vodka and an orange garnish and sipped the night away (** See Amanda’s notes below on storing the syrup in your bar**). But, since my girlfriend, Angie, had emailed me earlier in the day about a “totally amazing, must-try popsicle” she had created with cocoa, natural peanut butter, coconut milk and maple syrup, I had frozen treats on the brain.
I layered the strawberry syrup with well-blended* premium coconut milk in my popsicle mold, added a few sliced strawberries for visual appeal and placed them flat in the freezer – waiting for the first kid to complain, “I’m too hot!” the following day.
*Be sure to shake your can of coconut milk very well to ensure the fats resting on the top blend with the coconut water.
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