Monday, April 25, 2011

First time Jammin'

I finally took my first stab at any kind of canning (and this isn't really canning). My parents canned all kinds of good stuff as I was growing up. I remember canning pickles, tomatoes, peaches, pears, applesauce, grape juice (once the grape juice was done wrong and we got something a little stronger than we wanted...good latter day saints makin some wine - by accident of course!) and of course jellies - canned and frozen varieties. I've been married just about 11 years and have never done any of these things. My main excuse was having room enough for it, but that excuse was really only good for about the first 5 or 6 years. Then we moved a whole bunch (Air Force) and I wasn't all that excited about my produce options in Texas (other than lots of great watermelon - who knew, Texas?) When we lived in Maryland I would drive up and visit my parents in NY a lot and steal some of their freezer jam and bring it back with me. Didn't have to do any of the work - just had to make a 5 1/2 hour drive to get it. Totally worth it!

We move here to Cali last summer and didn't get settled in this house until mid August. By then the strawberry season had passed. We have a stand/farm really close to our house and I've been waiting all winter to get my hands on some of these fresh picked strawberries. They are so sweet! So I got the recipe my parents use and got a bunch of strawberries today. Strawberry freezer jam is a pretty simple thing to do. (I'll know for sure tomorrow when we can test it out - it has to set for 24 hrs) Since it was my first go at this I thought I'd take some pics to commemorate it.

First I got everything set up and ready to go, including washing and drying all the containers. I measured out the sugar very precisely (I never do this when I bake but I want this to turn out well) and started mashing the strawberries a little at a time.

I got Maya in on the action too. Since it was my first time I wanted to do most of it, but next year I'm going to have her do more. This is the type of thing I want her to know when she's all grown up.

(She sporting her new glasses, by the way. So cute!)

Once I got the strawberries mashed and mixed with the sugar, I boiled the water and pectin then added it all together. Man, strawberries smell good! My mouth was watering like crazy!

Next we poured it into our containers so they'll be easy to fit in the freezer.

Luke was happy that he could finally get into the strawberries. Here's our finished product.

While I was doing this, Matt and Maya and Luke were out working on our garden project.

Here's the kids by our new berry bushes. (Black, blue and raspberry. I think there's even a boisenberry bush - I've never had a boisenberry before...I think.)

Here's the plants the kids have been growing for the past month or 2. They all started off as little seeds. They love checking them every day and seeing how they are growing. We've got cucumbers, carrots, peas, and different kinds of flowers growing.

Along with some other supplies, we picked up some strawberry and tomato plants to add to the bunch, but these have already been started for us, so we hopefully won't have to wait as long to see the "fruits" of our labors. (I know, stop groaning. I'm aware it's cheesy.)

We're renting this house (since being in the Air Force will only have us here a few years). Our landlord is fantastic and has given us lots of freedom in using this home as our own and we plan on taking great care of it. The only part of the yard that would fit a garden doesn't get any sun. So Matt and Luke have worked hard on building a portable garden bed that won't hurt the yard here and we can do whatever we want with. We'll see how well the plants grow in it.

Luke and Matt mixing the soil and pete moss. Luke and Maya really love far.

(Sorry, these last 2 pics were taken through a window, so they're hazy)

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The Kids