Well, I did it! I made jam for the first time in my life. It is freezer jam, which I supposed could be considered a short cut to 'real' jam-making, but I had to start somewhere!
This jam started at Prairie Gardens and Greenhouses, where they have two huge u-pick strawberry fields. When I arrived there two days ago to pick berries, I was told that it was the end of the picking season for strawberries, but that there were still lots of berries on the bushes that were tasty, just small. I did find some large berries, but mostly they were quite small, say a half-inch cubed. It took me about an hour to pick a 4 litre bucket of berries, which cost $12. The berries were deliciously sweet and I sampled a few as I picked...mmmmm.
The next day I separated out some of the prime berries for strawberry shortcake fixins and chopped up the rest. I ended up with about 6 cups of chopped berries. To this I added the Club House brand "Garden Fare No Cook Freezer Jam mix", half a cup of sugar, and followed the directions on the package. ( I actually added only 3/4ths of the Club House mix because I had on 6 cups of strawberries instead of 8.) Not including chopping and picking time, it took me about 15 minutes to make this jam! My six cups of berries yielded 4 1/2, 250 ml jam jars. Adding up the cost of the berries, the jars and the mix, each jar cost me $3.16. This isn't unbelievably cheap or anything, but when I reuse the jars next time, the price will come down to about $2.32. That is a darn good price for a jar of homemade jam!
Next year I will have to recruit a few more pickers to come with me, and enough jam can be made for the whole family! What is also exciting for next year, is all the free wild raspberries we have around here - I will be able to make a lot of jam from those! In fact there may be enough left on the bushes right now that I can make a couple jars of raspberry jam with the Club House mix I have left over. Back to the kitchen!