Hopped in the car with the Bug, headed down the coast for a “girl’s strawberry pickin'” adventure. Fun. I love driving Route 1 along the ocean. You can keep the mountains and the redwoods with their steep, dark, creepy roads; I love the open wildness of the pacific coast.
We took the long way down: we started early in the morning up at Half Moon Bay and headed until we were just south past Pescadero a few miles, to Swanton Berry Farm.
I haven’t picked strawberries since I was a kid growing up in Winfield, Illinois where they grew wild and sweet in the field behind our house. Remind me to tell you the story of the snake, someday…
Lucky for us, we were some of the first people there. By 11 am, it was super crowded, but by then Bug and I had picked as much as we could carry. We headed back to the farmstand and weighed our booty (hey—our strawberry booty! They don’t provide a scale that large) and paid for it–using the honor system, no less! We also bought a few of their handmade strawberry chocolate truffles. Yum!
On our way back, we popped into downtown Pescadero for some lunch and “wandering with the intent to purchase non-essential items.” Luckily there were only a few places to shop. 😉
We had a great lunch at a homey, tavern-y place called “Duarte’s” (which Bug reminded me had been on Food Channel before). They’ve been around for ages and are famous for their Cream of Artichoke soup (which of course I had to have), and their fresh seafood (which Bug had to have).
The next morning, part 2 of the adventure began: Strawberry Jam Making.
I’ve made jams before, but since we’ve been cutting sugar out of our diets as much as possible around here, I really wanted to play around with making a low sugar version, and this seemed like the best place to start.
After going through my trusty Ball Canning Recipe Book, we began. I also found some great help on this website. There are a ton of recipes that looked good for canning. I ended up doing one batch with half the traditional amount of sugar, and another batch using one quarter the amount of sugar with one quarter organic agave syrup (which I know is technically sugar, but oh well…). The results of both versions were thumbs up all around here.
I know lots of people who can, and I know a lot more who think canning’s too much work to bother. Personally, I think prepping the jars is actually the hardest part of canning. Once that’s ready to go, and your produce is cooking, it’s a breeze. Honestly, I feel lost household arts like these are important; our kids should know how to do it. Self-sufficiency is important and empowering. And fun. And besides, homemade jam just tastes better. CR kept saying how fresh it tasted. Can’t say I could argue with him. It was worth the time spent.
There was even enough time later that day to make a couple of loaves of that wonderful no-knead bread, and we ate like royalty for the next few days. I think every breakfast around here last week had some homemade bread or strawberry jam at the center of it all! We still have a dozen jars, but I don’t know how long they’ll last. I was thinking of using them for teacher gifts, but…
Later this month…Olallieberries!
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