best-in-show2

After close to two years of procrastination, mostly on my part, honestly, my wife Lisa and I decided to pick strawberries and make a batch of strawberry jam. This was significant because we had never done this all on our own before. In past years we either stole the strawberry jam that Lisa’s parents had already made, or we assisted them as they made the jam and then stole it when they went to bed.

I had a few worries the evening before diving head first into this endeavor. First, we were at the tail end of strawberry season here in North Carolina, and most of the farms we called said their fields had already been picked over. Second, we’re semi-inexperienced in the ways of cooking and making stuff. Third, we would have to get up early in the morning, on a Saturday.

So, the first thing we did after leaving our apartment early the next morning to start our adventure was to, you guessed it, stop at McDonald’s so that I could have an Egg McMuffin meal. The sheer brilliance of  this is nothing less than extraordinary. I can not think of anything else that gets a guy in the mood to squat and bend at a farm at the unreasonable hour of 8:00 AM on a Saturday like a good-for-you breakfast sandwich, hash brown and Diet Coke.

Twenty minutes and a few wrong turns, mostly thanks to Lisa, honestly, later we ended up at Porter Farms.  Since I had just finished my high-energy breakfast we quickly grabbed some empty buckets, walked out into the field and started picking strawberries. I don’t have any pictures of us doing the actually picking. The main reason is that while picking strawberries is a rewarding experience, the actual position of the picker’s body during said picking is really not that flattering. Second, we forgot to bring the camera. I can, however, show you the, chuckle, fruits of our labor here in a minute.

An hour later we had picked four gallons of strawberries. Now, four gallons seemed like the right amount to us to make enough twelve to fifteen jars of jam. But this is where the semi-inexperience-ness I referred to earlier, fully kicks in. When we stopped by the store to pick up the rest of the ingredients in the proportions needed to make the jam, we quickly realized that perhaps we had picked a few too many. When we returned home this is what everything looked like.

Look at all this stuff!

What isn’t shown in the above picture is the fourth 5 pound bag of sugar and the additional twenty-four 16 oz jars that were needed to complete this project. Also, you probably can’t tell, but the stove clock says 10:39 AM.

Lisa washed and cut the tops off of the strawberries. I, being the ruthless individual that I am, then crushed the strawberries as I had all my enemies. The results were two filled-to-the-rim gallons of juicy red goodness.

crushed

We divided the strawberries, sugar and Sure Jell into their required portions and built an assembly line. Lisa started by heating the Sure Jell while I mixed the strawberries and sugar.

Stirin'

Combinin'

We then combined our efforts. After monumental amounts of stirring we poured our creation into the jars.

mixin

Porin'

We ended up with 33 jars of strawberry jam and 4 containers of ice cream topping. If we are hungry enough to consume one jar a month it will take almost three years to make this all go away. If you zoom in on the stove clock it is now 4:15 PM.

jars-a-plenty

While Lisa was out of the kitchen I decided to play with my food Poltergeist-style.

Berry stacked!

In conclusion, the experience was a ton of fun and I recommend it to anyone, especially if you have children. If nothing else I think this experience has helped me gain some of the valuble experience I need if I ever apply for a position at a meth lab. Oh, and if anyone wants to stop by and share some strawberry jam with us we’d be happy to have you. No rush, we’ve got plenty.

– Ben