My husband's family has been making jam for years. I knew NOTHING about it! Being a bit of a picky eater as a child, I was reluctant to try things that had seeds or chunk. . . man I had no idea what I was missing out on!
After we were married, Steve suggested that we give it a try. Of course being completely clueless to anything related to jam making, I resisted the idea.
In January 2009, we purchased out home. Complete with a large kitchen and lots of counter space...I'd offically run out of excuses. So that summer we found a local strawberry patch and away we went on our first berry picking excursion.
With all the necessary weapons, I was ready to go into battle (or so it felt!) with my very first batch of Strawberry Jam. We had spent the better part of an afternoon picking these amazingly sweet, tiny strawberries! I had never tasted one fresh, off the plant before and neither had our son Connor (15 months at the time).
Jam is so Delicious!! I had no idea that once you figured out how chunky and seedy you prefer your fruit, it all came together pretty quickly.
My first jarring season was relatively quiet. There was Strawberry Jam (lots of it!) and in the fall we went apple picking. Apple butter has been my absolute favorite spreadable since I was young and decided to give it a try. After all, I'd had success with Strawberry Jam and was feeling confident that I could create something amazing. How hard could it be to make Apple butter? The answer to this is it is quite time consuming! I spent most of a Saturday working with it as a matter of fact, but oh my, was it work every moment. Steve and I enjoyed it so much we decided to pass it out as Christmas gifts to friends and family. Everyone raved about the Apple butter which made it a unanimous decision to do more berry picking next season!
Not only have we finally thawed out from the last of the snow, our family of three is officially a family of four with the birth of our second son Liam Patrick in March. Spring is finally in the air and Steve has been hard at work scouting wild berry bushes since the first green leaves popped. He's sure there are a number of delicious berries just around the corner. We also planted two raspberry bushes and a blackberry bush in our garden the spring of 2009.
I was a bit unsure how I was going to juggle taking care of a newborn and picking all of the necessary fruit to make a nice selection of jam for Christmas gifting this year, but we piled the kids into the double stroller and hit the Strawberry patch first.
Connor (now 2) has learned the difference between ripened berries and not so ripened berries and was ready to help! I was ready to see him eat his weight in Strawberries. Steve, Connor and I picked as many strawberries as we could carry back to the scale in one trip. Brought them right home to be washed, cut and into the refrigerator. The next day, I made three batches of jam during Liam's nap.
Steve's scouting pays off in a huge way!! Black Raspberry, Thimbleberry (which mostly grows in the Western U.S.), Blackberry and Raspberry all growing within 10 minutes of our home. Every day he has come home with berries and we would also pick the fresh, ripened berries from our garden. With all the different varieties he was coming home with, I had to freeze them as soon as they were washed fearing they would spoil before I had a free moment to make Jam with them...I was also getting low on supplies...