It’s that time of year again. The local produce is coming on strong and if you are interested in getting in on the freshest food and while sustaining our local food economy then it’s time to preserve the harvest.

Thinking about recipes to share that include summer berries is tough because in truth, there is really no way to improve upon a perfectly ripe, glistening red strawberry.  It just doesn’t get any better than popping a luscious vine ripened berry directly into your mouth.   Aside from a really delicious Raspberry pie recipe I have and the occasional Strawberry Shortcake, I don’t do anything with berries expect eat them and preserve them for later.

Tomorrow I am having the ‘girls over’ for some jam making.  I know, I know it sounds like a throw-back.  Women, coming in from the picking field, with their hands stained red, slaving over a water bath canner on a hot summer’s day.  Didn’t Gloria Steinam and Smuckers liberate us from this drudgery back in the 70’s, breaking the chain between women and their kitchens?  I think about Ms. Steinam sometimes as I watch myself becoming an evangelist for the home-cooked meal.  What happened to equal work for equal pay?  I could buy a jar of ready-made Strawberry Jam for less than the cost of ingredients and have time left over to watch TV.  So why do I do this?  There are two reasons.

First of all, I do this because I CAN.  Over the course of my life, I have been lucky enough to learn the skills and accumulate enough cooking equipment.  And I CAN do this because we are lucky enough to live in a place where there are still a few small farms where I can get fresh off the field produce.

And secondly I do it, because it feels good.  It feels good to me, when I see a line glass jars on my pantry shelf, full and ready for winter. By September, there will be various jams, peaches, tomatoes, tuna and pickles. It feels good to know that what fills my pantry was grown close to home by people who care about sustaining the land. And finally it feels good to see a smile on someone’s face when they bite into a piece of homemade toast with a dab of strawberry jam that I made. And that I know is wholesome and free of most chemicals.

I know I was supposed to do more with my life … but really.  Making the effort to care for the land and nourish our bodies actually seems pretty important.

Rather than print a recipe today – here are some useful resources for preserving the harvest.

For well-tested food preserving information:

http://nchfp.uga.edu

Or for those who like books, The Ball Blue Book, available at most stores where canning supplies are sold.

Or call your county extension office to speak with a real live person.

In Clallam 360-417-2279, and in Jefferson 360-379-5610.

 

 

And for U-pick options in the area:

Blueberry Haven Farm

173 Lewallen Road, Joyce

360-928-0257

 

Cameron Berry Farm

Corner of Wheeler & Woodcock in Sequim

360-683-5483

 

Graysmarsh Farm

6187 Woodcock Road Sequim

360-683-5563

 

Dungeness Meadow Farm

135 Meadomeer Lane Sequim

360-582-1128