Preserving Memories

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. 

The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.”

~ Susan B. Anthony

They were here early this year, and lots of ‘em!  Because of the mild winter we had last year, the strawberries came in early spring- and they lasted, it seemed, for months.   
I love to take my children to pick fresh fruits, veggies, or whatever we can get our hands on.  There’s just something about picking a berry straight from the vine and being able to eat it.  We even tried our hand this year at a few strawberry plants of our own.  But with Circle S Farms practically around the corner from us, there’s really no point.  If you’ve not been to Circle S, I highly recommend it.  It is super clean, there is a playground there for the kiddos, and there are tons of things to pick from.  It’s one of those rare places that still operate on the honor system.  At least early in the morning they do.
So what to do when you pick a bushel or ten of berries?  Well make preserves of course!  Only problem is I’d never done it.  A quick Google search will yield many recipes, and after settling on one, we set out to make our first batch.  It takes time, so don’t start unless you have a couple of hours to devote to it.  It is so worth it though.  What I learned during this process is it’s not actually what you are doing, but who you are doing it with.  As my girls and my mother and I did this, we had fun and learned a new skill- all while making fun memories.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?
I won’t  take you step by step throught the entire recipe, but share the highlights.  The first thing you need is the correct equipment.  
I used Ball brand supplies.  They have a nifty little kit you can pick up that has most all the things you need to get started.  You also need at least two very large stock pots.  I probably would have had an easier time with three pots….and a third hand!
Then you need two little helpers, preferably snaggle-toothed. 
And a mother to help supervise it all!

Note the assistant eating the lemon that was supposed to be used in the recipe- you just can’t find good help anymore.  Tisk, tisk, tisk…… 
You must first boil and sterilize everything!  Jars, lids, and all….
Next, you cap and squish the strawberries:
Following the recipe, you add the rest of the ingredients:
After you boil and seal your jars with the preserves inside, you let it sit for 24 hours to complete the sealing process. 
We had such fun and plan to try our hand at it again when we pick apples this fall.  Who knows?  I may even enter our preserves into the fair!  Someone’s gotta win, right?
Tip:  When measuring sticky ingredients such as honey, spray your measuring cup or spoon with non-stick cooking spray first and your ingredients will slip right off.

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