We look forward every year to the arrival of Oregon strawberries. You can only get them (around here, anyway) from little stands that spring up on busier roads around the area. People make little signs with a big, red berry and the word, "OREGON", with an arrow pointing the way. As you drive closer, more little berry signs beckon you. When you get to the stand, you see a few tables put together under a striped canopy (tent-like covering), holding pints and pints of berries. If you're lucky, that is. More often than not, you are greeted only by empty tables with a few smashed berries underneath. Too late. There have been some years that we looked and looked for a berry seller but those were years that the season was bad or they never made it out here to the coast. Cherries often compete with the berries at stands but that's another story.
This year, we were fortunate. I guess. We found a lady selling berries just down the street - we could walk there (and did!) And, yes, we got there too late several times. Finally, we arrived just in time to buy the last flat she had that day (the lady ahead of us got the next-to-last flat). We took them home and immediately began to prepare them for jam. You see, the Oregon strawberry is so delicate it begins to deteriorate the minute you bring it home. It is evil in that respect. So, being the chief strawberry preparer, I began washing and de-hulling the berries. Each pint took 15-20 minutes (I'm really picky). The beautiful day was passing before my eyes out the kitchen window. At least I could watch. After I prep the berries, Todd takes over with the jam making. Lucky me! The reward is having wonderful, homemade strawberry jam to last for some time. Makes my stiff back and aching arms almost worth it.
The next week, Todd took Chad to his orthodontia appointment. They came home bearing TWO flats of Oregon strawberries! Guess what I did all day? Berries, berries, berries! We had to go to the store before I could begin and by the time we got home, the berries were looking pretty weak (these were day-old berries this time). I got started and by 11:30 pm, I prepped the last pint I could do. I was bushed! Todd finished the jam and we went to bed. He decided that the last few pints could be made into strawberry pancakes the next day - bless him! Refrigerating them helps a bit but they still deteriorate fast.
All in all, I'm glad we go to all the trouble to make the jam but by now, I don't want to see another berry for quite some time. Unless, of course, Todd brings home another flat. Oh, please, don't read this, honey!