Summer is one of those times when I try to keep my schedule open. I like the freedom to say yes to an impromptu pool visit or trip to the market. I revel in the simple pleasures of popping out to the library and grabbing dinner with a friend. It feels so serendipitous and romantic. It also helps to break away from the rigid schedules of the school year and winter months. We can easily overbook ourselves throughout the year but I find making space for myself seasonally helps me to enjoy the flavors and delights unique to that time of year.
One of my favorite summer past times is strawberry picking. When I was a little girl my grandmother let the wild vines in her backyard thrive. She was always pointing out sweet little red berries for me to pick and devour right away. There is nothing sweeter than a sun warmed berry in your mouth. When I first started my own garden strawberries were the only plants I grew. I eventually waded into tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, and squash. But my favorite standbys have always been strawberries.
And so each summer I call the strawberry hotline – our local berry pick-your own market has one – where you can call to find when the strawberries are ready and then head to the fields. The earlier the better for strawberry picking. It is such a delightful adventure to pack up the kiddos and head to the farm for a morning of berry picking. We always collect some fresh produce, a pie for dessert, and donuts. They also get a chance to play at the park after they’re done devouring their own berries and breakfast treats.
Another joy for me is to bring home the berries and make jam. Jam making in the summer is not only a sign of the season but a sweet way to bring our whole family together. Each summer I make a point to invite my cousins to come visit. Sometimes they stay for dinner and if I’m lucky they stay for a week or two. It gives us the chance to catch up, connect, and bond.
There’s no better activity for teenagers then helping not only pick berries but also to pare them, pummel them to jam, and talk over the activity as a family. What a delight to work together to make something so sweet and fresh. We use my grandmother’s recipe, which admittedly is a lot of sugar. The Kerr jar company of the 70’s liked their sweetener and so do we. If you’re going to make jam, make it good.
It feels so wholesome to prepare jam from my grandmother’s recipe, using the mason jars she once did to make new memories with our family. I hope my kiddos remember these sweet summer rituals with joy. It fills my heart to think of the love I pour into each batch and the joy I reap in sharing this summertime tradition with another generation. The spoils of summer are many – what are your favorite ways to enjoy them?