Do You Have Leftover Local Berries? Why Not Start A Tradition

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It’s never too late to start a summer family tradition

One of my favourite parts about summer are the fresh fruit stands that pop up all over the Fraser Valley, especially in Abbotsford. Did you know that we are apparently the raspberry capital of the world? This was news to me.

What better way to commemorate this achievement than by making fresh raspberry jam?!

Every summer ever since I was a little girl I would make huge batches of fresh jam with my grandmother. I have so many fond memories of picking the berries by hand, secretly eating my weight in berries, and enjoying a relaxing afternoon of cooking while in a borderline berry-induced food coma.

Raspberry and strawberry

There really isn’t anything better than the smell of freshly made jam, or the taste! Everyone in my family would take turns licking the spoons from each new batch. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the natural sweetness of the berries.

And don’t worry, we made sure we washed the dishes in between each round of jam-making.

Did you know that you aren’t limited by the type of berry? Raspberry and strawberry were always household favourites, but you can also make jellies and compotes out of the multitude of different fruits that grow around us.

Making fresh jam from scratch sounds like a pretty daunting task. I agree — I surprise myself sometimes when I tell people I spent my weekend making jam. It does sound quite impressive. “Why yes, I did make this jam from scratch in my very own kitchen.” How Martha Stewart-esque.

Fresh jam doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many different options that don’t even require any form of cooking. Some recipes are so simple, all you need are berries, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin.

Raspberry and strawberry

I love getting my fresh berries from Lepp’s Farms. The quality of their fruit is incredible. I love the fact that all of their food is sourced from British Columbia and the Fraser Valley. Knowing that I am able to make a kitchen staple from fresh, local ingredients, is such a good feeling!

As I got older I understood the importance of making jam by hand every year. By purchasing my own local berries I am able to control what my body is exposed to. I can choose to purchase organic fruit. I can purchase from a pesticide-free farm. I can support a local farmer that might be a family friend.

I am also able to control the quality and the cleanliness of the fruit that is used in the jam. I can delicately shine the dust off each berry by hand before tossing it into the food processor if I so desire. I can also make sure that there aren’t any garden-friendly bugs mixed into the berries by accident!

Homemade jam makes a fantastic gift for any occasion. It can be stored in the freezer for up to one year, depending on the recipe. A few batches of jam will last you the entire year, and for a fraction of the cost of purchasing brand-name store bought jams.

Sometimes it truly is the little things that make all the difference. Whenever I have jam on my toast for breakfast, or even in a sandwich throughout the week, I am reminded of the care and work that was put into the spread. I am reminded of the memories from preparing the jam itself.

Maybe it’s just me… but making jam every summer if one of my favourite (and most useful) family traditions.


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