If we're being honest, and do I try to make that happen here, I definitely started eating the strawberries on the way home.
We were having our parents over for dinner that night, so I baked up some sweet biscuits for strawberry shortcake, which turned out to be amazing. I used this recipe, and loved the cakey texture and touch of sweetness, which was perfect for shortcake. I cut up some strawberries and macerated them in sugar (let them hang out) for a little bit in the fridge, and once I spooned them over the biscuits, I topped it all with some whipped cream. You could always make your own whipped cream, too, but I opted for a shortcut.
That weekend, I was still dreaming of strawberries, and decided to make crepes for breakfast. I used this recipe, but added just a bit of sugar, and a dash of both vanilla and almond extract. I love those flavors together, and the sweetness they add. I filled and topped the crepes with a few spoonfuls of strawberries- let me tell you, they were heavenly. You could also add some maple syrup, but I didn't think it was needed since the berries were already so sweet. Oh my goodness. So yummy! I've also made this crepe recipe since then, and have added a tablespoon or two of ground flax to the batter, too, for a little healthy extra.
We chose a rainy day as jam-making day. This was a great way to spend a cool wet day, for sure! We followed this recipe, and it worked so well for us.
First things first, make sure your jars are clean and lids and rings are clean and dry. Also, you'll need a pot that's big enough to boil all of the jars, both before filling and after. It's best to try out the pot before you add and boil water, to make sure all of your jars fit on the bottom. You can buy a rack to pull the jars all out at the same time, but we decided not to, and using tongs worked out just fine.
Before beginning, it's helpful to determine how many cups of fresh strawberries you'll need, to end up with the correct amount of mashed strawberries that the recipe calls for. We did a little strawberry math for you to make this easier:
Every 1 cup of whole will end up to be 2/3 cup mashed. You need 5 cups of mashed strawberries for this recipe, so you want to start with about 7 and 2/3 cups of whole berries. Don't hold us to that precisely, it's just a guide to help!
Use a funnel to fill the jar, being mindful of stirring your jam first to get both the berries and the liquid. Fill the jars so they have about 1/4 inch of space at the top, and run a butter knife or the canning kit tool around the edge of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.
You'll also want to have a damp cloth handy to wipe down the rims of the jars before putting the lids on. Pleas excuse the mess in the background. This was kind of a fast moving project!
-Jars must be sterilized before using for canning, and lids should be new. Everything touching the jars- tongs, cloth, surfaces, should all be clean as well.
-There are lots of great resources out there for safe canning, and it was helpful to do some reading, since we were new to this process.
-Setting up our "zones" ahead of time was a big time and headache saver. You'll need a place to set the jars down and fill them/wipe them down, a place to set filled jars while you fill the others, and a place to set finished jars once you're finished- this spot needs to be out of the way, as they have to rest for 24 hours. Using silicone trivets, kitchen towels, and heat safe cutting boards was the way to go for us.
-Laying down some paper towels under your path from the jam pot to the jars is necessary, at least if you're me. I found that the ladle dripped a bit, and not having to worry about it dripping down between the stove and cabinets, etc. was very helpful in staying focused (this is important, since you're holding boiling liquid!)