Whenever we picked strawberries as a kid, my mom always made jam within a few days. I’m not sure I appreciated her hard work at the time.
I used to think that the store bought stuff was fancier, and I wished we could get it – that is, until mom’s jam ran out.
I remember opening a jar of Smuckers for the first time in years and being very disappointed. Mom’s jam was AWESOME.
I wanted to do the same with the berries we brought home from Sweetberry Farm.
I’m sure Mom told me exactly what she was doing while I sat in the kitchen and watched her all those years ago — but to tell the truth, none of it sank in. In fact, I actively rebelled against anything that smelled remotely like being a homemaker for years and years. So when I decided to make jam, I bought a book on home preservation and followed the instructions.
Home canning is a science, and it’s true that you do have to follow the “rules” so to speak. But it’s not all that hard once you get the hang of it. The most time consuming part was preparing the berries. I had to wash and hull 8 cups worth — crushed. Then I mixed the berries with 6 cups of sugar (so not Paleo) and stirred constantly over medium heat until they came to a boil — 25 minutes later. I opted for the old-fashioned recipe because — believe it or not — it called for less sugar.
But the results were amazing. It was the most delicious taste of heaven — just like I was a kid.
Luke woke up from his nap in time to watch me fill each of the 12 jars I had warming in the pot on the stove. Once each one was filled, closed and put back in the pot, I brought the whole thing for a boil, and let them process for 10 minutes.
The sealing process actually takes place once you take them out of the pot and let them sit on the counter to cool. 24 hours later, we tested, and the jars were perfectly sealed. The jam didn’t really set, but it’s still delicious. And my son loves me for making it.
I used to pick strawberries with my family as a kid. We always had a great time.
Mom and Dad would drive out to some “pick-your-own-strawberries” farm in Virginia where we would spend hours getting sunburned and stuff our containers and ourselves with ripe red strawberries.
I want my kids to have the same experience. That’s why the three of us hit the road Saturday morning for a farm just outside of Marble Falls, Texas — Sweetberry Farm.
If you’re not familiar with Central Texas, Marble Falls is about an hour west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.
We met our friends Jenny and Eric and their son Ollie, picked up our strawberry boxes and got to picking.
Luke helped for a little while, but he was so excited, he and Ollie spent the rest of our picking time running through the aisles, which were muddy, pretending the mud was chocolate.
It was very muddy, but we were prepared with extra clothes and shoes, so I wasn’t worried about anyone getting caked with mud. And thank goodness they had several hoses available for us to wash up with.
After picking three boxes of strawberries, we paid and headed off to the picnic tables for lunch. They have a nice shady area for people to relax in — right near the animals, so the kids were excited.
We followed up with some delicious ice cream — STRAWBERRY, of course!
Luke was exhausted by the time we left Sweetberry Farm three hours later, but it was well worth the trip. I had big plans for those berries! And I do plan to return in early June for blackberries!