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Today I Took A Jam Break


When I tell my kids I’m going to do something, I do my best to deliver. I had a mountain of work to finish today and didn’t really have time to dedicate the day to all things strawberry. But I said I would take them strawberry picking and today was the last day for U-pick at the strawberry farm we go to every year, so we put on our sun block and hats and headed out to the fields.

We picked 13 pounds of strawberries pretty fast, stopped for ice cream on the farm and then booked it back home where I spent the next several hours hulling and smashing and stirring those berries into jam with intermittent assistance from Amelia. (Abby was practicing for her upcoming video game tournament debut next week at the library.)

That’s the thing about strawberry picking – the more you pick, the more work you have to do when you get home. I knew I wouldn’t get much else done today if we went to the farm, but I also know how important it is to follow through on the things we tell our kids. Most of my work deadlines are self-imposed and sometimes I get so busy that I forget why I let go of the security of working for a large company and getting a fat check every week. I let go of the money to gain the priceless freedom to not work on a Saturday and be able to drop everything and go to the strawberry patch with my kids.

It seems unfathomable that I could actually forget this, but I do. I often say: “I don’t have time”  when really I control how I spend my time. It’s crazy to think that we can get so busy that we forget that we have options. I decide how I spend my days and I have the power to stop the treadmill of endless work and take a break. I can do that, but I usually don’t. I usually just keep plowing through. I’m going to work on hitting pause more often.

Somewhere in the middle of the second batch of jam I shook off the anxious feeling I get when I have a lot of work to do and end up doing something that’s not on the list. Today I surrendered to the the rhythm of jam-making. Wash the berries, chop, hull, repeat. Smash, mix, stir, stir, stir, stir, stir. Pour. Seal. Repeat.

I like making jam. It’s time consuming work, but I quite enjoy the satisfaction that comes with recognizing the moment when the jam jells and hearing the “pop” of lids when a successful seal is achieved. And, really, is there anything more lovely in the kitchen than seeing 25 fresh and beautiful jars of bright red jam sitting on the  counter?

Today, I did some work for my family. I made us some jam. My only regret is that I rushed the girls a little bit in strawberry field. We could have lingered longer at the farm. We didn’t have to rush. The other work will get done. And it will get done better if I give myself a chance to relax and recharge. It’s so important to slow down now and then. Life isn’t a race, it’s a journey.

I hope you take the time to make some jam this summer, too. My favorite strawberry jam recipe is the one by Lydia Adams that I featured in the summer 2011 issue of CraftSanity Magazine (issue 3). And as I type, my dehydrator is drying a fresh batch of strawberry fruit rollups. I used Alana’s recipe, but skipped the cayenne pepper. (I’m going to let my kids sample the non-spicy version first. :  ) I’ll let you know how the taste test goes, so stay tuned. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment below about what you’re making.

Comments

Comment from Julie
Time: June 24, 2012, 8:48 am

Yum, that strawberry jam is seriously drool-worthy. I have some veggies from the CSA and fresh rhubarb in the fridge that I need to deal with before it goes “soft.” It’s great fresh, but I think for peace of mind, I need to get this stuff in the freezer. It’s a good lesson, if you pause to learn it, that time keeps flowing and if you use it well things just work out better. Of course, I say that as my time last night and this morning got sucked into knitting and not the work that I’d feel better about completing. Oh well, not complaining just learning out loud.

Comment from Beverly
Time: June 24, 2012, 10:51 am

What a timely post for me to read. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the work I feel obliged to do that I neglect the pleasures of the season. I’m going to make some strawberry jam today, myself. I agree: the jar “pop” is a satisfying sound!

Comment from Lydia
Time: June 24, 2012, 11:00 am

Thanks so much Jennifer for mentioning the article in your CraftSanity Magazine. Your strawberry jam looks so good we could just eat it off the web. lol Got some cherries this morning so going to try that. Also, here in Florida the plums are getting ready to pick, so who knows. Homemade jams are just the best. Thanks again, Lydia

Comment from Brandi
Time: June 24, 2012, 12:42 pm

I make jam every year and it’s a family event. What great memories.

Comment from jennifer
Time: June 24, 2012, 1:36 pm

No problem, Lydia. I’m a big fan of your jam. Your strawberry jam recipe has become tradition in my house. I really love it!

Comment from jennifer
Time: June 24, 2012, 1:37 pm

We only live once, so it makes sense to enjoy as much as we can. Have fun making jam today!

Comment from jennifer
Time: June 24, 2012, 1:39 pm

Hi Julie. I used to belong to a CSA farm, too. It was challenging to stay on top of using up all the food. Now that I’ve had more time to practice perserving food and learning about canning, I feel better equiped to manage the harvest. Perhaps it time for me to rejoin the farm. : )

Comment from Alessandra Hayden
Time: June 24, 2012, 6:07 pm

your jam looks so yummy. I am on a diet now, trying to lose the baby weight, since the baby is already 7 months old… LOL
So no jam for me.

Comment from Elizabeth
Time: June 24, 2012, 10:50 pm

I made jam for the first time in a few years. I’m making raspberry jam tomorrow – the boys and I have been picking them along the roadsides.

Comment from Jacky
Time: July 3, 2012, 12:16 pm

wow,it’s amzing.
i have once make juice from fresh apple bought from themarket,but i haven’t had a chance to make jam from strawberry!
nice idea,i think i will have a try tomorrow!!

Comment from ellen
Time: July 13, 2012, 3:17 pm

It’s important to keep in mind that your creativity will suffer if you don’t build some free time into your life, in addition to spending time with your precious girls before they are grown and gone. Balance can be hard to achieve.

Comment from Dawn
Time: July 18, 2012, 11:08 pm

That strawberry jam looks wonderful, I wish you would have put your recipe on line. I am tired of following the recipe on the bo of sure-jel. Ill keep watching incase you decide to. Thanks

Comment from jennifer
Time: July 19, 2012, 1:30 pm

Hi Dawn. The jam recipe I use is the one I published in issue 3 of CraftSanity Magazine. It was the summer 2011 issue. You can order a print copy of the magazine at CraftSanity.etsy.com or instantly download the PDF version of the magazine on the left side of this website. I hope this helps. All the best, Jennifer

Comment from sally green
Time: August 15, 2012, 10:26 pm

HI,the strawberry jam looks great.I never do jam before,because I don’t know how to do them.I think i will try to learn from now.

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