Last Saturday, my husband and I set out for a fun day of berry picking! We packed up a picnic, drove over to Pescadero, and went to Phipps Country Store & Farm where you can pick your own olallieberries. I was excited, but a little bit worried that it would be slim pickings. When we went last year, we ended up with only a few pounds of berries. The annoying part about this is that they charge you an entrance fee of $3.00 per person on top of the $3.00 per pound of berries, so it’s only worth it if you go to get lots of them. Of course, it’s still lots of fun, no matter how many berries you end up with, but my main purpose in going is to get enough berries to freeze for winter berry pies, and to make jam with to give away as Christmas presents or thank you gifts. Well this year, we got a fun day AND lots of berries. The olallieberry bushes were heavy with sweet, plump berries. So much so, that we only got through one row of berries before we had too many buckets to carry. We ended up with 14 pounds of ollalieberries! In addition to olallieberries, Phipps also sells a wide array of dried beans. Most of them are locally grown, and many are heirloom varieties. So I couldn’t help myself…I picked up five different kinds of beans. Two of them were particularly interesting-looking: Spanish Tolosanas and Anasazi.
After picking and paying for our loot, we sat down for a late lunch on one of the picnic tables outside the country store. The picnic was fabulous, and consisted of a fresh tomato, avocado, and homemade goat cheese salad, homemade bread, salami and cheese, strawberries, and beer. Lunch hit the spot. Here is a picture of it:
So after lunch, we headed home, but first stopped at my parents’ house to drop off some berries for them. My mom wanted to come berry picking too, but was too busy getting ready for an upcoming trip, and asked me to pick up some berries for her. When we arrived at my parents’ place, it turned out that my dad had just finished picking a huge bag of plums from their front yard. The plum tree stands just above the driveway, so when they ripen, they inevitably end up all over the car and need to be cleaned up. Since they were leaving for a little while, my mom was set on getting as many of those plums out of the tree to avoid having them end up on her car. So of course, we ended up with over half of the plums (about 8 pounds of them). On top of that, we had just gotten 4 pounds of plums (of a different variety) from a family friend. So let’s review: After giving my parents 3 pounds of berries, we ended up with 11 pounds of olallieberries, 8 pounds of yellow plums, and 4 pounds of red plums, equaling 23 pounds of fruit. Oh dear.
There’s really only one thing you can do with that much fruit: make jam. So the next morning, we got up bright and early, and set out to preserve all of these delicious summer fruits. I’ve watched my mom make jam every summer of my life, and pretty much learned how to do it from her. She doesn’t always use pectin, but I decided to use it this year, just to have peace of mind that this fruit would not go to waste. I pretty much followed the instructions from the pectin box. However, I did reduce the amount of sugar in both the plum jams by about a cup each, even though the instructions strongly discouraged that. I had no issues though- all of the jams set beautifully. This was my husband’s first time helping out with the jam-making process, and he was great! That much fruit made this a 2-person job, so it was wonderful to have some help! After 5 hours of work, we now have 35 jars of jam to eat or give away to family and friends. It may seem like a lot of work, but berry picking and jam-making is one of those summer traditions that I love.