This is one of my favorite sights:
You might ask why a bowl of green strawberry tops evokes any kind of feeling at all…let alone a highly positive and satisfying one. You see…a bowl of strawberry heads chopped off of their lovely little berry bodies means only one thing…that somewhere…very close… something lovely and very yummy is happening! Baked into a pie…jammed into jam…or simply popped into a mouth, strawberries are such a divine way to welcome in the season of bounty.
The patch in our yard, though doing well, doesn’t satisfy the appetites of the littles and the needs of strawberry shortcake and pies. Berries for jams and freezing have to be picked elsewhere. Which we don’t mind at all! We had a wonderful adventure to our favorite local U-Pick berry farm this week. The little man cub saw enough tractors and over-sized trucks to fill any going-on-2 year old with complete glee! The three of us really have the perfect situation for picking berries. With two littles completely absorbed by the immensity of the berry patch, the infinite berries to find and eat, and the fascinating “big farm life” happening all around them, I could fill our flat just about the time that they were “done”. Good things can still happen even after children are “done”, but oh is it so much more fun for everyone if we are all happily on the same page!
It is familiar work, kneeling in damp straw searching beneath green leaves for brilliant bursts of red. My hands have been at this work for as long as I can remember. Knife in hand I hull and slice berry after berry, my mind in the studio, or in a book, or creating an imaginary tale for a little one, as the work of the hands needs no attention. It is comforting to do something with your hands that is so familiar it is a part of you. It is work that binds the past and the present. It is work that has built the foundation of our very souls. It is work…but it is joy as well.
Remind me of these sentiments when produce to be processed is coming in by the bushel load day after day after day will you please!!!!!
The berries picked the other day at the farm have been turned into yummy jam. The first canning of the season! I use a very simple jam recipe. Simple is good.
4 : 3 ratio berries to sugar.
So if you had 4 cups of berries you would use 3 cups of sugar…12 cups berries 8 cups berries…etc. I actually use this same recipe for all my jam whichever fruit I am using. Cook over med – high heat stirring constantly. Never fear…if something comes up and you have to leave the stove just turn it off, cover it up, and start it up again as many times as you need before it “jams”.
I tried something new with our strawberry jam this year and have been thrilled with the results. Instead of slicing the berries for the jam I simply cut off the tops and put them through the meat grinder at the widest setting. My hope was to avoid the huge berry globs that happen with strawberry jam…but keep the juicy yumminess! Huge success! Not only does it make a fantastic consistancy for the jam but it cuts the job of preparing the berries for jamming down to almost nothing! And…as jam making is mostly done over the stove and is off limits for my kidlings this is one more (very fun for them!) jam job they can help with! Win for all!
What bit of yumminess are the strawberries in your kitchen being transformed into?