It has been at least four years since I went strawberry picking. With all my surgeries on my knee and hip it was just impossible for me to feel steady on my feet out in a strawberry field but, I did it this year. It was a day after a hot spell of heat we had, it was overcast but still a perfect day. I went with my friend Helen. We use to go for years, strawberry picking in June, blueberries in July, raspberries in August, peaches and apples and pumpkins in the fall. I took my kids for years when they were growing up. It was always a good time for all, even though the kids ate more than they picked.
This year we went to Ellsworth Hill Orchard, 461 Cornwall Bridge Road in Sharon Connecticut. It is a pretty ride from Pine Plains and we also got to stop at Paley’s Farm Market on the way back.
By the time I got home I had no energy to make the jam so the next day I started at 10:30am and finished at 2:00pm, I had forgotten how much time it takes to make jam. I have a large black canning pot which I filled with water and put all my jars and lids in. I brought it to a boil for a while to sterilize everything. While that was happening I started cleaning my strawberries in a large colander and taking off the green tops, and by the way I picked over 10 pounds. Once cleaned and hulled, 3 colanders later, they go in the pot to cook with lemon juice and lots of sugar. Once they come to a roaring boil you stir for a minute then add the pectin and stir for another minute at a roaring boil. Then you fill your jars. The jam is so hot going into the jars that once I have their lids on I turn them upside down. The heat from the jam processes the jar lids so they are good for at least a year.
With my left over strawberries I cleaned them, hulled them and did not cut them as I did for the jam. I left them whole and froze them for my summer fruit smoothies. They were small berries but oh so sweet. Next month they will have blueberries ready for picking, they have three kinds of blueberries, one kind will be on the bushes up to the first frost. They are the tart ones that are great for baking. They do have a roadside stand if you do not want to pick berries yourself. They also have really good apple cider donuts!
Below is Helen and myself with the smiling wooden strawberry and in the stand is Barbara who took our picture and she is the one who gives you your box for strawberry picking or boxes. Very sweet lady, been there for years, she can always remember a face but not the name which is ok, a lot of us are like that. I ended up with nine jars and five bags to freeze. Next month is blueberries. I have never made blueberry jam, I always froze them to take out for pancakes and of course smoothies, but this year I will give it a whirl!
On our way out and just down the road is the Sharon Audubon Center and the Emily Winthrop Miles Wildlife Sanctuary, a great place for kids.
The Sharon Audubon Center consists of 1,147 acres of mostly forest and includes 11 miles of trails and two ponds. The main Visitor Center building houses a small hands-on natural history museum, the Audubon Nature Store, and the Children’s Adventure Center. The immediate grounds include Raptor Aviaries, the Herb Garden, the Eleanor Loft Bird & Butterfly Garden, and a working sugarhouse (formerly an ice house).
The Sharon Audubon Center is Audubon Sharon’s community nature center where the majority of the programs and events are held. The center runs a Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic to help people who find injured and orphaned wildlife, and naturalists are on duty to answer questions and interface with the public. A Pine Plains school group was there that day.
If Ellsworth is too far of a travel there is also Thompson Finch Farm at 750 Wiltsie Bridge Rd, Ancram, NY 12502, Strawberries there also.
By Patti Vincent