I have learned from many years of experience that children love to garden and cook right along with you, as long as you keep it short, simple and fun. Kids love to pick fruits and veggies that they like, they like to learn about measuring, they love to use fun tools, and they even like to learn about time by setting and watching the timer. There are so many simple lessons that can be learned in the kitchen, especially if the food you are preparing comes straight from the garden. But mostly kids love to spend time with you. And of course, you should always bring along your best friend, too.
Since it is strawberry season here at Cowlick Cottage Farm, my 6-year-old grandson, Jacob, and I spent yesterday afternoon making Triple Berry Freezer Jam. First we picked the strawberries, fresh from the garden. He has loved to pick the strawberries since he was old enough to walk. He used to pick the green ones, too, but now he knows to hunt for the bright red ones, because they are the sweetest and juiciest. While I trimmed up the strawberries, Jacob washed the blackberries and raspberries that we bought at the market. He sampled them as well. A lot of them. Our jam might just be a tad short on berries, but no matter! Once we got all the berries washed and prepared, Jacob took on the very serious role of mashing the berries to smithereens with the potato masher. This was a most satisfying task for him.
Jacob didn’t quite believe me when I explained to him that berries, sugar and a special thing called pectin are all that you need to make jam. Actually, I don’t think he quite believed that you can make jam from the berries in the garden. He’s a skeptic at heart.
Did I mention that the crushed up berries smell good? They do. They smell really, really good!
Jacob had fun counting and lining up all the freezer jam jars, with their matching tops. We carefully measured the jam into each jar. We didn’t spill TOO much.
Finally, Jacob made labels for each jar of triple berryliciousness. One for papa, mama, daddy, Nonnie, Auntie Nat, Auntie Cubby, and Uncle Phil. It’s fun to stick the labels on the jars! He was quite pleased with himself, but when I asked him if he’d like to taste the jam, he said, “No thank you, ma’am. I would rather make it for other people.” Sweet boy. Now, out to play!