We are picking the last of our strawberries this week. I grow everbearing strawberries for a number of reasons. They are tough, prolific, and tasty, as well as a great groundcover. Mine hold a difficult slope in my front yard that adjoins the driveway. I get a surprising number of berries in the spring, about three or four gallons. (The number of berries I get in the fall are negligible.) We get enough fruit to eat fresh on cereal, make desserts like strawberry shortcake, have over pancakes, share with neighbor children, and still make a couple of batches of freezer jam.
I appreciate not having to fuss with these berries. I don’t mulch or thin them. I simply train new plants into bald spots that develop when older plants die and toss some finished compost over them in the fall. My biggest job is digging and giving away the new plants that spread into the vegetable beds at the top of the slope each spring!
I made a double batch of freezer jam with these berries. Freezer jam requires a LOT o’ sugar. Some people are squeamish about the weird ratio of sugar to fruit. I am philosophical. I don’t eat more than a couple tablespoons (if even that!) of jam at a time, so I figure the impact on my diet will never be that great. Moderation–at least when eating strawberry jam–is key.
To make the no-cook jam, I just follow the instructions that come in every Sure-Jell package (although the pectin I used to make this batch of jelly was bought at my favorite Mennonite bulk food store). If you are going to be making a lot of jelly or jam, it is a good idea to buy your pectin and lids from a bulk food retailer. I’ve also bought perfectly good pectin at bent-and-dent salvage grocery stores.