Even if you’re not planting a garden of your own this year, you can still take part in a harvest.
Jerry and Jane Wohletz, owners of Wohletz Farm Fresh in Lawrence, invite you to their farm to pick and gather your own strawberries.
Jane has fond memories of being with her mother and siblings preparing strawberry jam.
“Growing up it was a yearly springtime event that my mom, three brothers and I would go pick strawberries. When we got home, the boys and I would get busy stemming the berries and Mom was busy getting all her canning equipment prepared to make strawberry jam,” she says. “We all spent the day in the kitchen together laughing, talking, working and just being together. It is this memory that drove me to want to start a you-pick of my own. I hope families come to our you-pick year after year and create memories they cherish.”
Jane recommends starting out with a simple jam recipe for those unsure how to prepare their fresh-picked strawberries.
“I recommend making jam because first, it’s almost as easy as boiling water, then there’s the tasty jam you get to eat and share all year long, but the best reason is kids can help and will take such pride in knowing they made something so good,” she says.
Below are canning directions and a strawberry pie recipe.
Cooked Strawberry Jam
Makes 8 cups
Pick 4 pints fresh strawberries. Wash and stem berries. In a 6-quart or 8-quart sauce pot, crush the strawberries. This should give you 5 cups of crushed strawberries; if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water to get exactly 5 cups.
Pour in a box of pectin (such as Sure-Jell). Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine (this helps reduce foaming).
Bring to a rolling boil and stir constantly.
Quickly, stir in 7 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Skim off foam. Ladle quickly into warm mason canning jars and fill within 1/8 inch to the top. Wipe jar rims and threads clean then screw on two-piece lids. If the jars are warm and the jam mixture is warm when it goes in the jars, then you should have no trouble with the jars sealing. If the jars do not seal, you may have to put in a water bath. (Step-by-step instructions for this may be found using a Google search.)
4 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
red food coloring
8- or 9-inch baked pie shell
Mash 1 cup of fresh strawberries and cook over high heat with 1 cup water for about 2 minutes.
Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into the mashed berry mixture. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly.
Add a few drops of red food coloring for a deeper red pie. Place 1 1/2 cups of fresh, washed and stemmed strawberries into a baked and cooled pie shell. Pour half the sauce over the berries. Repeat the layers with the remaining strawberries and sauce. Chill for at least 1 hour.
5 quarts fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed
1 quart white distilled vinegar
Place strawberries in a large stainless steel pot or plastic container. Pour vinegar over strawberries and let sit overnight.
The next day, pour off liquid from strawberries and reserve. Liquid should be red and clear with no pulp (vinegar pulls juice out of strawberries).
Measure reserved strawberry juice and place in a stainless steel stockpot or saucepan. Add an equal amount of sugar. Bring to a boil.
Skim off foam. Pour into jars.
Serve cold. Refrigerate leftovers.