It was just the kids and I, as GI Joe was working or some nonsense like that. Our goal was to pick A BUNCH of strawberries so we could try our hand at making jam. The owner, a very sweet (no pun intended) lady, took us out to the strawberry patches and showed us the tricks of the trade. How to identify the perfect berry, where to find them, what types of strawberries were best for jam, the whole bit. And then she INSISTED that we sample as we pick. You don't have to tell my berry loving kids that twice. More than once I heard "this is like an all you can eat strawberry buffet!" from their little mouths. Not sure if that's what the owner had in mind when she said "sample" but we called it quality control. We spent a good hour picking and ahem..sampling an assortment of strawberries and finally decided our baskets overfloweth and it was time to call it quits. Not without a few more quality control tests of course. We ended up with 7 pounds of strawberries in our basket, and approximately 5 pounds in our tummies! The nice lady gave me instructions on how to make perfect jam while the teenage girl working took the kids on a Gator ride to "see the animals." Turns out their petting zoo consisted of an alpaca, a calf, and a horse. My kids kept looking around for the rest of the animals and one even asked the girl, "Got any emus?" So while their petting zoo didn't quite hold a candle to the Koons Zoo they've got us beat hands down in berries.
After the extensive zoo tour, we headed home to jam.
The nice lady at the farm had told me to buy Sure Jell and follow the instructions precisely for making freezer jam. Freezer jam doesn't require the use of the big pot with the whistle on top that may or may not explode in your face. I think we can all agree it's best if I avoid dealing with explosives, in any form.
I had 3 jam assistants. One in charge of washing the berries, one in charge of taking the stem off, and the other was in charge of measuring out the vast amounts of sugar that were needed. We followed the directions for freezer jam that were included in the Sure Jell package to a tee, the only variation was adding a pat of butter to the mixture and stirring it in until it melted to keep it from foaming. Who knew right?
About an hour later we had 12 adorable little jars of jam. It turned out the prettiest shade of dark pink. And isn't that what it's all about? Prettiness? Oh and it tasted delicious too. As evidenced by the entire jar that the jam assistants and their father consumed before the jam had even completely set up.
Making jam wasn't nearly as scary or overwhelming as I had thought it would be. Yes, I thought it would be scary, I had a very traumatic experience making pickles one year and have never fully recovered. But making jam didn't make me smell like a Vlasic for 2 weeks or stain my countertops a lovely shade of neon yellow so that was a definite win. It did however, make me feel so, like, domesticated.
Basically, you can call me Betty Crocker now.