On Saturday morning, James, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and I drove to a nearby farm to pick strawberries.
I had never been to this farm before, but it was beautiful!
The weather was pretty damp, but we had a great time.
Natalie wore her strawberry-picking outfit--for the first and maybe last time! She LOVES strawberries and was covered in them by the time we left.
The strawberry plants were gorgeous (love the little blooms!) and there were so many berries.
It didn't take any time to fill up three buckets (almost 18 pounds!) with perfectly ripe berries.
Perfect little rows. I would love to grow strawberries at home one day.
The owner told us that our weather has been perfect for strawberries this year. I might even make it up there again before the picking season is finished.
The farm also has peaches and apples. I'm sure we'll be back for both of those!
We took home several boxes of berries and got started on jam. We used a simple recipe that I've seen in a lot of different places on the internet. I have a Ball book that belonged to James's grandmother, so I will be getting that out soon (I just didn't plan ahead this time!).
First, we washed and hulled the berries (about 2 quarts). We took some advice to heart and bought one of the hulling tools. Worked great!
Next, we mashed them. We couldn't get the consistency quite right, so we used an immersion blender to break the berries up a little more.
Then, we added 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of pectin (just the classic powdered kind, like this). Bring it up to a boil at this point, and then add 7 cups (!!!) of sugar. Return to a boil and boil rapidly for one minute.
(The shot below is before the "rapid bowl" stage threw nearly half of the jam on us and the floor!)
Things were a little hectic for us, so I didn't get many good pictures. We definitely have a few areas for improvement (it's a lot easier to stir if you don't let your spoon fall in the pot and we weren't so good with the timing of heating the jars versus finishing the jam), but I think we learned a lot and should have the hang of it by next time.
Finally, skim the foam off the top of the jam before adding to jars (leaving 1/4 inch head space) and processing for 10 minutes.
We bought four of the Ball half-pint jars on the left above, but we actually preferred the jars on the right (I think they were the Wal-Mart store brand). The Ball jars might be easier once we get the hang of it a little more, but they were harder for us to work with this time. (I apologize for the terrible photo. I haven't gotten home early enough this week to catch daylight!)
I had never canned before and was actually pretty nervous about it, but it went so well! All of our jars (8 half-pints) sealed without any issues. We were talking in the living room when we heard the first few lids pop. What a great sound!
I made biscuits Sunday morning and can't wait to try it on a PB&J! I'm already looking forward to my next canning weekend.
Do you can? Any favorite recipes?