Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fruits of Summer

We try to live the "Cottage" way of life, which means to me that we live simply, be as self-sufficient as we can, use what we have {and be grateful for it}, work hard, play some too, and ALWAYS enjoy life! 

Strawberry-picking {which led to jam-making} embodies all of these concepts.

{Picking strawberries at the field. My 7-year old shows his treasures so far}

Last Thursday, my friend, Jennifer and I decided to take our families strawberry-picking at a local farm. After stopping by another friend's house, she {Tracy} decided to bring her two boys along too! The more, the merrier! 

It was a perfect, sunshiny day with big puffy clouds and a nice breeze.

Armed with 4 quart buckets, all nine kids had a great time picking and eating those jewel-like berries, and wandering through the fields and tree line! Even my husband, who is a bit allergic to strawberry plants, had a great time picking and talking with Jennifer's husband.

{a partial bucket of home-grown strawberries . . . don't they just look like rubies?!}

Our family picked 28 quarts of strawberries alone. The price was right at $1.50 a quart, and there's nothing like locally-grown, sun-ripened strawberries! 

After a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on lids, sugar, and pectin, we were off to Jennifer's house to can up some strawberry jam, while the kids and husbands jumped in the lake for a relaxing swim.

{stirring the pot}

In the years past, I've done quite a bit of drying and freezing of fruits and veggies, but shamefully, it has been years since I've canned anything! And this was the first time I've made cooked jam. I've always made strawberry freezer jam, so this was a new experience.

I was actually really surprised at how quick and easy the process was!

Hull and crush the berries, measure and pour them into the pot, add the pectin, let it boil, add the sugar, boil a bit more, pour into clean jars, process them in a water bath for 20 mins, and . . . voila . . .

14 pints of beautiful, gleaming, homemade strawberry jam!

Breakfast on Friday consisted of whole wheat toast with homemade jam . . . there's actually nothing like it! Even though we cooked the jam, it still tasted like fresh strawberries!

I spent the rest of the day on Friday hulling the remaining berries, making 14 pints of triple-berry jam with raspberries and blackberries, freezing some, and making the strawberry portion of strawberry shortcake with the rest. Is there ever such a thing as TOO MANY strawberries?

We worked some, played some, used what nature gave us, had a LOVELY day, and now I've got half a year's worth of jam in my pantry made only from pectin, sugar, and homegrown strawberries.  

Here's to the simple pleasures in life!

Fondly, Kate 

1 comment:

  1. Kate, your son may not have realized it that day, but you made a golden memory for him! I, too, try to live the "Cottage" way. So this post (and the name of your blog) really spoke to me. I used to make regular jam--it's quite fun--but tried my hand at strawberry "less sugar" freezer jam last month. Liked it so well I'll probably make another batch this month. Your photos are gorgeous!