On Wednesday morn, my dear friend Amy and I stole away and picked some of the last strawberries of the season up at Berry Hill Farm. It was harder picking than what we experienced last year as the fields were a bit picked over and some of the older forgotten berries were moldy and gross. So, we spent a few hours of that gorgeous day picking through good and bad berries. The tedious picking did not prevent me from picking a whole lot of berries, though. I think I ended up with about 17lbs of berries! Ha! I went into the picking saying that I wanted more than last year...and that is exactly what I did! I walked away with three full flats and Amy walked away with two. We were also both able to walk away with a bit of rhubarb as well, even though its spring prime had passed. It was quite a success!
Jam making immediately commenced once we got back to my place. We needed up with 14.5 half pints of yummy strawberry rhubarb to be shared and enjoyed over the summer and throughout the long winter that will surely follow.
The rest of my berries were cleaned and hulled yesterday and so far I've frozen 8lbs of berries, 4 cups of rhubarb, and filling for a strawberry/rhubarb pie all in freezer bags. I also started infusing a batch of strawberry/rhubarb vodka and have a few plans for the rest of the berries that are currently sitting in my fridge. I may even have enough to freeze a pound or two more! Hoorray!!
In the busyness of the past two days and the overwhelming amount of berries that I brought home, I did end up losing a few cups of berries to mold and mushiness. I was a bit upset about it until I realized that they were only $2.20 a pound and I lost less than a pound...so life will go on. And the chickens are reaping the benefits of those less than desirable strawberries. They quite enjoy the mushy ones!
As I stared at my table full of berries yesterday, it made me so happy to think about the fact that I probably won't need to buy strawberries for the rest of the year. Not only do fresh, local berries taste SO much better (and are surely packed full of more nutrients!), but they are also cheaper and better for the local economy and environment! These beautiful berries travelled just 40 miles from the field to my kitchen and they will last us throughout the winter. I'm so very thankful for this!