I can virtually taste those field fresh strawberries weeks before it’s picking time.  This is an annual event and it is not to be missed, because we missed it once and we regretted it all year long.  A whole year, a long cold winter, without homemade strawberry jam.  It will never happen again!

We picked at one of our favorite farms, with some of our favorite friends.  It takes a bit of winding through the back hills of Tennessee to get to this place, but the long drive and the glorious scenery are a major part of the experience for us.  On our drive to Valley Home Farm, Decker John actually said, “Mama, it’s so pretty in these valleys that I almost want to cry.”  Oh!  Melt my heart.

In our family, the golden standard for Strawberry Jam is the basic Sure-Jell freezer jam.  It’s not complicated, it’s not fancy, but it’s what we grew up on and it captures the sweetness of these ripe red berries exactly the way we like them.

As a newlywed, I had the great joy of living only a few hours away from my grandmothers.  Every spring for several years I would bring my fresh picked berries to my Mamaw’s house in Winston-Salem, and we would spend a day making jam.  We made enough for me and for her and a few extra jars to give away.  I love that she taught me exactly how to chop and smash the berries, that she emphasized the importance of stirring the Sure-Jell on the stovetop for exactly one minute as the directions said, and I love that when I spread my biscuit with jam I always think of her.

Legend has it, that I was given a taste of strawberry jam from the fingertip of this special lady during my first week of life!  No wonder I love it so.

Are berry picking and making jam family traditions for you?  

post and pictures by Sunshine