Something I've been wanting to do for the past four years is make strawberry freezer jam. For four years, it hasn't happened for one reason or another. The summer before Coco turned two, she and I were visiting in Spokane. I knew nothing about making freezer jam, or going to pick berries for that matter, and I mentioned to my mom that I'd like to do so. She thought it was a great idea and then before we knew it, it was July and strawberry season was behind us. Obviously it didn't happen when we moved to Minnesota. Then last year, we were getting moved into our house, so it didn't happen again. This year, I wasn't letting it escape me!
Now here's a really weird thing about living near family. Well, it's weird for me anyway. I always feel like I should plan to do things with others. Initially, I had planned to do my pots with my mom. I thought it would be fun to make freezer jam with one of my sisters or my mom. Totally normal, right? Right! Except, in my case, it always seems to just result in the thing never happening. So, on the first day of her summer break, Coco and I sat down and planned out all the things we want to do this summer. I decided I'm not worrying about doing things with others anymore. No more waiting around!
Off I went all by myself with two small children to the strawberry patch. I was proud that I remembered hats for all of us. GPS took us the totally wrong way not once, but twice, but we made it to the farm anyway. When we got out of the car, we could smell the strawberries and they smelled awesome. It was pure dumb luck that I had the checkbook in the car. Otherwise, we would have had to leave empty-handed. I guess I just figured they would take cards. This is America, after all! Well, they didn't. I was just happy I had the checkbook in a bag I haven't used in a few weeks in the trunk. HA! So back to the hats. Out there in the field, there is a marked lack of shade! You know it's going to be sunny, but my god, once you're out there, it feels like your brain is actually melting. The hat doesn't seem to be doing much until your toddler pulls it off. The sun is oppressive; you really do just want to run and hide!
It definitely did not help that we were there at noon on day one of a heatwave. Theo was happy for about the first four strawberries I handed to him. Then he started crying. In the end, I carried him (and a full flat of strawberries!) back to that little shelter you can see behind Coco.
It was right about then that I started Googling recipes for Strawberry Freezer Jam. The recipes were all referencing cups and quarts of hulled and quartered strawberries and my sun-fried brain couldn't even begin translating the berries in our little box to actual chopped up measurements. I asked some of the women working there if they'd ever made freezer jam. (They had not.) And then I decided I had better get out there and pick more berries. I wasn't going to leave without enough. It had taken me four years to get there! So I asked Coco and Theo if they would like to sit at the tables at the other end of the shelter and watch me? And then the ladies offered to hang out with them!
I ran back to the car and grabbed a little blanket for them to sit on as well as a few books and toys. Sometimes it really pays never to clear anything out of your car! Then I went back out and by the time we left about 45 minutes later, I had two very full flats of strawberries. That's 12.5 pounds! I'm pretty sure only the Bonne Maman herself would pick that many, but I figured too many is better than too few, don't you agree?
Now, I'll leave you with these words of wisdom and share the of rest my adventures in jam making for another day. Trust me, if you want to make jam, do it in this order:
- Find a recipe that sounds good to you.
- Pick out your jars and get them, along with any other equipment required for your recipe (see #1).
- Then, and only then, go berry picking EARLY IN THE MORNING.
- Finally, make your jam that same day. In other words, don't let those berries ever see the inside of your refrigerator.
I didn't do it that way. Obviously. More strawberry adventures to come! xo