Archives for July 2011

Daily Photo – Idle boats

This is our local harbor on a misty, cool summer morning last week.  The skiffs were all at the dock – wasn’t much of a boating day.  As much as I crave sunshine and heat in the summer, these cool days offer a quiet break and a welcome reminder of why we love living in Maine.

In which strawberries replace snow

I believe that it is necessary to hold off on putting lawn furniture out until we’ve picked our first berry.  We live in Maine and I’m pretty sure that if I set the Adirondack chairs out in our yard, it will promptly snow and summer will be lost forever in a pile of slushy mud.  Thankfully, we picked our first strawberries this week, so no fear.  Lawn furniture is out, patio umbrella is up and we have over 20 lbs. of juicy red berries in our lives. Let the summer begin. Finally.

 

Twenty pounds of strawberries is a lot of berries.

 

The juicy red ones

The funny thing is that when you are out picking them, you just kind of “go”.  There is no limit.  You pick and pick and pick and then you figure out what you should do with them.  We’ve waited months to see these little nuggets of sweetness dangling from their lanky shrubbery.  Damn it. Pick them all!  (Well, maybe not all, but lots.)

 

Our first year picking was overwhelming mostly because we had no idea we would come home with so many berries.  My husband and I probably picked 5 lbs. each and the kids, who were around 3 &4 years old at the time, picked about 2 lbs each (and ate more than what they put in their baskets).  This is when we realized we really did need a plan so we didn’t waste them all (duh). We could make pies or cobbler, but we needed a longer shelf life than baked goods can offer.  I needed to preserve summer so when January rolls around and we are totally snowed in, we have a small reminder that indeed summer will return someday.  Enter… JAM!


Our daughter has taken over the family jam business at the ripe old age of 7 and it has become her claim to fame.  “Sweet Strobery Jam”. She named it the year before she entered kindergarten and the name has stuck.  This is now her signature creation and her Christmas presents to our family.

 

The berries are plentiful and the kids love our annual pilgrimage to Butternut Farms in NH to harvest the crop.  We usually take one morning to pick and the next to jam it up.  This year went according to plan except that silly mom scheduled a dentist appointment for the kids during the canning hours.  I should know better than to plan a mid day appointment during strawberry season (or blueberry for that matter). So after a painful chat with our dentist, canning resumed and all was well.

 

mash those berries

The kids and my husband washed, stemmed and hulled the berries for a good hour while I washed jars and got the water for canning up and boiling.  After the berries were  ready to go we had our “mash-fest”.  This is where the kids take turns mashing the strawberries with a potato masher.  We go for broken up strawberries, not pulverized.  But sometimes that is hard to avoid as the potato masher is a lot of fun to use.  For everyone.  I am guilty of having a very heavy hand with the masher  – there’s nothing better than feeling the strawberries pop and ooze their sticky, red deliciousness!

 

We used a recipe from Allrecipes.com although we changed it a little.  They called for 4 cups of sugar per 2 lbs. of berries and we used WAAAAY less sugar.  For us it just gets too sweet.  But the lack of sugar coupled with a really WET spring and extra juicy berries made the jam a little runny.  I should have drained a little bit of the excess juice off.  Still yummy and delicious, but a bit thin.

 

Strobery Jam

Ah well.  All in all we have 23 jars of Strobery Jam! We didn’t use all of our 20 lbs. on the jam.  We saved some for eating, pies, etc.  Instant gratification still needed!

 

So summer has officially started for us.  Strawberry season is our family’s kick-off for a few months of warmth, sunshine and lawn furniture.  On a side note, I just put away our snow boots feeling confident that I will not jinx the weather.  Fingers still crossed.

 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!