On Friday, Mel and I went to Pennsylvania to visit her folks and go strawberry picking. We’d been looking forward to this for a while; Mel hadn’t been picking in a long time and I’ve never been. We’d planned to make jam and also freeze some strawberries to use for protein shakes.
After her mom fed us lunch, off we went. Troyer Farms mainly produces potato chips – their factory is in the middle of a potato field – but they also have “u-pick” strawberry fields. As soon as we got out of the car, the two old biddies in the car next to us informed us that the strawberries were really bad – small and sour.
We took the baskets that Mel’s mom gave us and went to our appointed rows. To our relief, the strawberries were fine. Yes, a bit small and not overly sweet, but still fine for jam or just to eat. It was a beautiful day, breezy and not too hot. The smell in the field was just heavenly. My knees, ankles and back were definitely not too happy after a while but we had fun talking dirty and pelting each other with strawberries.
We picked for two hours and filled the four baskets we had. Upon check-out, we learned that the baskets were actually 4-quart baskets, not 2-quart baskets as we’d thought. Ooops. So, we now have about sixteen quarts of strawberries. Twice the amount we thought we were getting. Mel’s mom took only a quart from us.
Yesterday, we washed and trimmed the stems from the berries. Re-measuring, we decided there was really about twelve quarts in total. Then Mel had to go to work, so we found room for them in the fridge. Today we had to go to the store and buy more jelly jars, lids and rings. We realized we were short after re-calculating how much jam we would be making. Plus, we needed to do the weekly grocery shopping. Then Mel had to go to work.
We bought holiday lids for the jelly jars. Most of our friends and family will be getting jam (and probably other homemade treats) for Yule this year.
This afternoon, I prepped two quarts of the berries and put them in the food dehydrator. The dried strawberries will make a good snack and will probably be really good in homemade ice cream when I drag out the ice cream maker. The dehydrator has made the entire house smell like strawberries. When Mel gets home tonight we will mash and cook up about eight quarts of berries for jam. The remaining two quarts (or whatever is left) will get frozen.
Aside from this project which grew out of control, I managed to detail the inside of my car and do six loads of laundry this weekend. So, I’m feeling pretty accomplished about my weekend and pink-stained fingers… but I’m getting damned sick of strawberries already.