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On Tuesday morning, I packed up the car with all my canning supplies, a basket and containers for strawberry collection, a bottle of water and a travel mug of iced chai latte and left for a day of strawberry picking and preserving at a friend’s house. The berries at Ithaca Organics were insane, and we managed to pick about 9 pounds each in just under 40 minutes.
Six hands make quick work of weighing, washing and hulling 19 pounds of strawberries (we each reserved about three pounds for fresh eating and freezing). By the end of the day, we had 5 half-pint jars of chamomile-scented strawberry syrup (plus a failed batch of two additional jars), 8 half-pints of spiced strawberry butter, and 15 pints of strawberry lemonade concentrate cooling on the counter.
Long days of canning and evenings of tossing-and-turning due to the heat call for some caffeine. So I made a big batch of chai concentrate to mix with milk for quick lattes. I’m saving my good looseleaf chai for hot tea, so I used half a box of Bigelow vanilla bagged chai tea for the concentrate. At only about $2 a box, it makes for a fairly cheap beverage, especially when compared with the iced chai lattes at coffee shops! I think this will definitely become my go-to summer drink!