July 2, 2009

Rainy Day Berries

It has been raining here for weeks.  In June we had the most days of rain for that month in over 100 years, the skies have been gray for so long it almost seems like a permanent state.  But I can't let the potential gloom keep me from a field of strawberries ready for picking.
Last Sunday, my friend Emily and I went strawberry picking in the pouring rain.  Surprisingly we weren't the only ones out there.  After a while you just have to ignore the weather and proceed like its any normal summer and time for harvesting strawberries is somewhat limited. As soon as I got out of the car, the air was filled with the sweet scent of the berries.  The fields were as soggy and wet as we would soon be, but there were rows and rows of bright red jewels, so sweet and flavorful.

Living in a temperate climate, with a short growing season and limited fresh, local produce for most of the year, there is something heady and intoxicating about gathering in the flavor of a season.  Its impossible to find a strawberry any other time of year that tastes like a freshly picked summer berry.  I have been filling up on them like they won't last long, and its true: it won't be long before all the locally grown berries are gone until next year.

Except the ones in my freezer and in jars in my pantry.  Its not quite the same, but I can't resist trying to capture the flavor and delight of the ripe berries for the months when we would have to go without.  After freezing three big bags, I used this wonderful recipe to make an abundance of strawberry preserves.  They are fabulous for spreading on a piece of bread or pouring on top of vanilla ice cream.

Like stored sunshine in jars, there is something so luxurious and rich about having delicious food tucked away for the future, whether is brings more rain or perhaps, one of these days, a glimpse of that sun!