Around the middle of June, strawberries begin to pop their happy faces up everywhere. I planted 90 strawberry plants earlier this year, but knew that I would get a small crop this year as they don't have the root system to support a large crop. Because our family loves strawberries ~ strawberry jam in particular ~ my daughter and I went to a local strawberry farm and picked strawberries for several hours. We ended up with just over 25 pounds of strawberries! I made 6 batches of strawberry jam... that is 42 bottles of jam to be exact, and I cannot even begin to tell you the satisfaction that comes with making this jam as it is a treat our family enjoys with homemade bread or biscuits.
Just seeing all those lovely jars lined up on the cabinet brought a smile to my face!
These are the strawberry plants that I had planted earlier this year. Some of the plants produce strawberries all summer, and some produce strawberries only in June. Because this is their first year, the crop will be small until their roots have a chance to grow. I have been getting enough berries from these plants to use in my smoothies every morning, and for happy little treats as I water the garden, and that is pretty awesome.
We found wild strawberries growing in abundance up on the mountain, but since we had picked our fill of huckleberries for the day, we just enjoyed the taste of a few... and they were sweeter than honey!
Huckleberries... the berry of the mountains. These berries have never been able to be commercially produced and for that reason, they remain a "delicacy" of sorts up here in the mountains. Because they are a favorite of bears too, there is a bit of dangerous excitement that comes with picking huckleberries. Not to mention the fact that these very tasty berries have to each be picked individually, they don't generally grow in clusters. This means that you have to work hard for every.single.berry that you pick!
The best part of huckleberry picking is the views that we enjoy whilst picking. High up in the mountains, where the only noises you hear are the sounds of the chipmunk sassing, or the birds gentle calls, and the soft breezes of the wind as it passes through the trees, it is a real treat... not to mention the occasional treat of a berry oozing its goodness in your mouth as you pick!
Huckleberries, precious purple gold! If you wanted to make some extra cash, restaurants in the area pay anywhere from $30.00 to $50.00 a gallon for these huckleberries. It took my daughter and I three hours, plus my son helping for one hour to pick a gallon and a half. I would far rather have the berries at this point... it is a lot of hard work... and having our own huckleberry cobbler, muffins, pancakes is far more worthwhile than the extra $$.
However, if I was so inclined, and had the time, it would be a lovely pass-time to spend the day huckleberry picking, and make a few extra dollars at it!
My dear neighbor A. has a young pie cherry tree that had these beautiful cherries that were fully ripened. She told me she had no intention of doing anything with the cherries, and asked me if I wanted them? Really? Oh, I was quite happy to go over and picked the cherries. The cherries were just perfectly ripe, and I couldn't wait to can them up!
Back home, the next job was the pits!
After the cherries were pitted and washed...
I canned them up in a sugar syrup and hot water processed them.
I also had some cherries that I had picked during the same strawberry picking excursion earlier in the week, and so I went ahead and canned up all the cherries. I made a cherry cobbler with the cherries that was absolutely delightful... oh my goodness! I could eat these cherries all day long, they are so good! I did forget to take a picture of the cobbler, mostly because it got devoured almost as soon as it came out of the oven! However, the next one I make, I'll try to remember to get a picture, lol!
Blueberries! Ah yes... the blueberries are in season here as well. So much berry picking happening right now... can you see why my fingers feel like they are permanently stained bluish red, lol!
I think I might just turn into a berry! The lovely berry farm close by to us is a U-pick and are open from daylight to dusk. Blueberries there are huge, juicy and sweet. A delight to pick! I picked about 10 pounds of blueberries, and had to stop because time ran out. However, I plan to go back and pick more soon.
Made a big batch of blueberry muffins with the blueberries... oh such yumminess!
We are making the most of the berry season that is going strong here right now. I hope to be back out in the berry field later this week to pick at least another 20 pounds of blueberries. I will freeze the blueberries to use in smoothies, pies, cakes, cobblers, and whatever else suits my fancy... lol! The huckleberries have likewise been cleaned and frozen, and can be used in any recipe you use for blueberries. I also plan to make huckleberry ice cream though... a special request by my family. I am currently gathering raspberries out of my garden, but I keep forgetting to take a picture of them. I will be freezing them as well. Wild raspberries, or thimbleberries are ready right now too, and I would love to pick some of them, hopefully later this week.
So we are living in a "berry sweet" world right now... enjoying all the sweetness the season has to offer, along with all the busyness!
Speaking of busyness... the "busyness" of life never ends. This weekend I am hosting a bridal shower for a dear friend who is getting married in August. Dear daughter is in charge of the games, and I of the food and decor. We are quite excited as we plan the event. It is always wonderful to find a couple who love the Lord so much and who are beginning their new life together. The bridal shower will wrap up another busy week, and then the last week of July will be here!! It is hard to look at the calendar and see that it is the end of July, and we haven't even been swimming once yet this summer!! I think that needs to change... and so hopefully we will find time soon to go down to the lake for a swim.
The lazy days of summer... where did that expression come from? In my world... it's the crazy days of summer, lol! How about you? Are you having a lazy or a crazy summer?