Sun-soaked Strawberries


There's something rustic and charming about picking your own fruit. Finding the right u-pick farm can introduce you to fruit that is incomparably sweeter and riper than any fruit you can buy from the store. An excuse for some fresh air and time soaking in the sun also make for a refreshing experience.
 Fruit picking and I go way back, back to elementary school days during the fall at Homestead Farm in Maryland for the best apple cider ever, hay rides and picking apples with the help of Dad's shoulders. Here in Georgia, Elijay is worth the 1-2 hour drive from Atlanta for the tartest, sweetest apples in the autumn.

For the springtime, strawberry fields in Fayetteville feature the ripest strawberries from late April to May.
While small, these berries are packed with sweet flavor. Nothing like the tasteless strawberries that you get off-season at your grocery store. In fact, I picked some of them just because I thought they were tiny and cute, but they ended up being packed with as much sun-soaked sugary goodness as their bigger counterparts.

This time around, picking strawberries was a totally impromptu trip. We had just made the trip to the Fayetteville post-office when the familiar strawberry fields sign prompted a "are you thinking what I'm thinking" glance between me and my partner in crime, followed by a stop at payless to replace our high-heels with some more mud-friendly shoes. An hour later found us gingerly stepping over muddy puddles hunting for enough berries to fill three seemingly-endless buckets.
Our excuse for going to this extent? Because... fresh strawberry jam is the perfect accompaniment to fresh Challah bread. Ok, so going to Publix, a 5 minute drive from the house and picking up some Smuckers would have been cheaper and a lot less time consuming... But, you really can't get the these kind berries, bursting with sweet strawberry juices and bordering between ripe and over-ripe, from the store. Plus, homemade jam definitely has a shorter ingredient list and far less sugar than the grocery brand jam. Our recipe? After thoroughly washing the strawberries and removing the stems. Throw them into a pot and simmer on medium-low heat, while adding about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar for every 8 oz of strawberries, depending on how sweet you want your jam to be.


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