I took my husband to a pick-your-own strawberry patch. Now that the children are grown, I need someone to help with the household chores. He has always been willing to offer a hand, but as the nest empties, his interests are expanding. This summer we are tending our first garden in years and visions of a shelf full of canned goods is on his mind. My hubby has always been a man in search of new adventures, so a trip into the country to pick berries sounded good to him. He also likes my strawberry jam. The fact that the jam cupboard has been empty since February provided good motivation. The sweet stuff really is like a taste of summer in the deep midwinter. There’s nothing like a piece of warm buttery toast slathered with sugar-laden strawberry jam right before going to bed on a cold January night. Mmmm, comfort food.
I usually fill two flats with ripe, juicy berries and head home to whip up several batches of jam. When all the kids were little and peanut butter and jelly was the lunch of choice, I often made as many as six or seven batches to get the whole family through the winter.
Now what you need to know about my wonderful husband is that he thinks big. He comes up with great ideas, and usually finds a way to pull them off. Most of the time I admire that outlook on life. If a 12 ounce cup of coffee is good, 24 ounces is better. If a one mile walk is good, four miles is better. If a 15 passenger van is good, a 48 passenger bus is better. In this case, 15 pounds of strawberries would’ve been good, but 30# was better. “Besides,” he reasoned, “with the economy the way it is, we should try to preserve as much as we can.” I am comforted to know that if Wall Street crashes, at least we will have plenty of jam to eat.
I made ten batches.
And froze another eight quarts of sliced berries.
And made strawberry shortcake.
And will put berries on my cereal every morning this week.
To his credit, my husband hung in there with me, helping to wash and mash most of those berries. He even ran to the store to get more containers when I had three more batches ready to go and no more margarine containers. In a couple weeks, it will be blueberry picking time on the farm. I’d better stock up on sugar and plastic freezer bags. Blueberries taste pretty good in January, too.