(Bob Marley fans will get the title reference - I hope!)
8:45 pm Tuesday night, after putting the kids to be a little late (it was swimming lessons night), I walked out to the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves and took a deep breath. There were 20 lbs of strawberries in my refrigerator waiting to be jammed. The kids had helped me prep the jars that afternoon (aka loading the dishwasher) and I had washed all the rings and lids. I prefer to make freezer jam. I love the fresh fruit taste, it is less work and I can use the lids year after year since the jars don't need to seal like in canning.
Matt came into my madness around 10 pm after paying some bills and was planning to go to bed. Oh, the plans we make and how they come undone! When he saw my progress (snail-like), he took pity on me and joined the effort. The strawberry season was early this year due to a hot spell in May. Therefore the time in June which is usually mid-season was the end this year. We got to the farm on the very last day of picking, this past Sunday. The wife said we were "ambitious" when I mentioned that we wanted to pick 20 lbs. It was hot as, well you know, the kids got cranky, had to go the bathroom (a lot!) and went to the van after about 30 minutes. So Matt and I were left on our own to search and wade through rows of mushy, end-of-the-season strawberries to find the edible ones and fill our containers!
You know, it takes a long time to fill a quart container when the almost all the berries are small, a looong time. But after 2 hours and a bad sunburn, we had picked our 20 lbs exactly (the farmer wife was very impressed, I am sure). So, back to the kitchen - there I was an hour and 15 minutes into jamming washing, stemming, mashing, stirring, pectin-ing, and filling by myself and I only had 3 pints full. I told you it was snail-like. Picking tiny, end-of-the-season berries takes a long time remember? Well, stemming, cutting off the mushy parts of tiny end-of-the-season berries takes even longer. Really. Which is when my handsome prince on his white stallion appeared and stemmed to my rescue! (Accurate description, honey?) After a few foul ups (not adding enough sweetener or pectin - it was late, my brain was done), Matt singing silly (sometimes obscene) songs and me asking him to quit it, and laughing up a storm listening to the hilarious comedy portion of this pod cast (First Contact) I had listened to before Matt came to my rescue, the jammin' was all done by 1am. Whew!
Strawberries we love you but next year, we are picking early!