I feel like right now we are in the midst of whirlwind tour of u-pick farms. For we have been blessed with the time, energy and support to make our way out to several farms to pick berries in the peak of the season.
Our first trip was on Friday, and was a drive into a picturesque valley overflowing with the summer's bounty. Our sights were set on saskatoons, the very berry that we were so eager to pick last year, but were so bitterly disappointed with. Alas, last year we didn't make it out until the end of the season and had hard picking, with mainly wizened berries to choose from. No saskatoon berry jam last year. But what a contrast this year! The berries were big and plump, juicy and sweet! With the help of my sweet, sweet parents, the children and I found jackpot after jackpot (as Nicholas and Jaelyn call the spots with lots of berries for the picking). We soon had eight pails filled between the six of us (though my parents had a head start and picked most of them on their own). Thankfully, most of my crew did there part to help out too.
Our second trip was today, with an hour's drive to the east for strawberries. Yes, that's right, we found strawberries, and they were closer than we thought they would be. Eight must be the number this year, as we worked together to pick eight buckets of these beautiful, sweet, red orbs. Nicholas was such an eager picker that he picked three and a half pails by himself and wound up with a job offer to pick berries for the rest of the summer.
Now, I find us in our warm kitchen, doing the first of the processing of 2013. Saskatoons have been frozen and poured with abandon into fruit crumble. Our experimental recipe for the year is strawberry maple jam with vanilla (from Taproot). If the few tastes I got are any indication, it is wickedly good. Strawberries fill my dehydrator and my freezer. I'm dreaming of what I can whip up with the berries that have not yet found a home.
Amid all this making and dreaming, I made some new discoveries too. Like that my husband wrinkles his nose at strawberry pie and strawberry crumble. That's okay...I still may pop into the library tomorrow to pick up A Year of Pies by Ashley English. I also discovered that it is so much easier to remove jar lids from a pot of water with a magnet secured to a butter knife. So long tongs! And I rediscovered the simple joy of mashed berries on ice cream. Yum.
Let the fruit farm tour go on!