This post by Jennifer Flaten
Until I moved from my grandmother’s house to my mother’s house, I’d never eaten store bought jelly. Each summer my grandmother made homemade jelly from the raspberries and blackberries that grew wild along the road to her house.
I remember hot summer days spent digging in the thickets looking for the perfect berries. We would carry empty five-gallon ice cream pails and for every berry that we dropped in the bucket, we ate three.
After we collected an ample supply of berries my grandmother would wash them and prep them for jelly, any leftovers from jelly making would be frozen for use at another time. Always thrifty my grandmother would freeze the berries in recycled quart milk containers. When we pulled the berries out for future as they were defrosting, I would always admire how beautiful they looked, like plump little jewels encased in a perfect square of ice.
One long sweaty afternoon my grandmother would labor to make those beautiful jars of jelly. She would always finish the jars with a seal of hot wax. I remember opening a jar of blackberry jelly in the middle of winter and using a knife to tease the perfect wax circle off the top of jar.
My grandmother did hot canning, a thing I’ve never mastered, I am a freezer jam gal myself and I prefer strawberry to any of the fruits with seeds. So, each spring I eagerly await the first email from the local strawberry farm letting me know I can come and pick.
The kids are wonderful berry pickers, maybe because they are so low to the ground, and it only takes us a few minutes to load a flat up with glorious fresh fruit. I always make sure to get enough to make a big batch of jam and have some left to make strawberry shortcake.
This year I was worried that we wouldn’t have a strawberry season because several severe rainstorms threatened to water log the fruit. Luckily, the rain passed and we were able to go out strawberry picking, all the while fending off monster-sized mosquitoes-that is how much we love fresh strawberries.
We collected enough fruit to make jam and strawberry shortcake with a few leftover for snacking.