Sunday, May 26, 2013

DIY from Strawberry Fields to Strawberry Jam: Carlsbad, CA.

Are you looking for a great kid-friendly way to spend your day in the San Diego area?  Check out the beautiful Carlsbad Strawberry Fields and pick your own berries. Then, seize the opportunity to teach your children how to make jam and spend the following day canning jam from your pickings!   My daughter thinks food just appears on the table, so this was a wonderful way for her to be literally hands-on with the harvesting process.

Carlsbad strawberry fields are located just north of San Diego off Highway 5, Cannon Exit. (Yes, not that far from the outlets :)  They only accept cash so make sure you bring $10 or $20 dollars to buy a container to fill up. Lastly, don't wear flip-flops (yes, I learned the hard way and slid around in a few muddy patches).

Berries are harvested from January thru July so drop by before fall and pick away. The best part is you can eat as many as you'de like while you pick, and boy did this bring joy to my 1 year old. I took her mid-May on a Wednesday and the fields were empty with people, but beaming with berries!

This is a wonderful experience for children especially because they get to fully participate in harvesting their own food, and create something that they can later enjoy (who doesn't love a PB&J)!

Spend the following day making an easy-to-follow strawberry jam.

Heres what you need:

2 quart sized mason jars -or- 4 pint sized mason jars
Pectin (I used Certo liquid pectin and found it to be very easy to use)
Lemon juice (about a tbsp worth, and not necessary)
Sugar (I used about 7 cups of sugar, but you can use less if preferred)
Sliver of butter
Strawberries (I used about 5 cups full...which were most of my pickings!)

Steps to Making Strawberry Jam:

1. Sanitize the mason Jars and lids.  Place them fully in boiling water and let them boil for 15 minutes. You can let them sit in the hot water until you're ready to use them.

2. Mash your berries. Better yet, sick them in a blender and blend them up like I did. Its easy and produces a less-chunky jam.

3. Mix your berries with about a tsp of butter and the pectin over med-high heat.

4. Let it come to a rolling boil for 1 full minute.

5. Add the sugar while stirring the entire time.

6. Start canning.   Take your mason jar, fill it up with liquid, leaving about a 1/2 inch from the top.  Clean any jam residue with a warm, wet cloth.

7. Cover with lid immediately and place upside-down for about 5 minutes (this allows it to set more effectively).

8. Return right side up, and let completely cool. (Mine took a few hours to completely cool).

9. Your jam can be stored in a cabinet until opened, then refrigerate. Makes wonderful gifts, and even better pb&js!