vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

Posts tagged complaining

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Choices I’m Making

This probably has to be my last post complaining about pick-your-own fruit, because, you know, these are choices I’m making with my life, and it’s not like I’m unaware of what I’m getting myself into.

And yet. I made such very questionable choices this weekend when I decided we HAD TO GO raspberry picking at noon on Sunday. For those of you not familiar with pick-your-own situations, the people who win are the ones that go first thing in the morning on a weekday or Saturday. The people who lose are the ones who spend Sunday morning dithering around over breakfast, reading Gold, looking up pick-your-own places, deciding they’re just going to buy local raspberries instead, calling around, deciding that it’s too expensive, then at 1-ish packing up the car with sunscreen, a sun-hat, and their old fruit cartons and driving out to the pick-your-own place.

The more picked-over the bushes are, the harder it is to find ripe fruit, and the longer it takes to fill up your baskets. Also, raspberry bushes have thorns. All over.

My arms and hands are covered with scratches, up past my elbows. The raspberries are delicious.

Filed under raspberries complaining

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Picking Strawberries (or, Let’s All Take a Moment to Consider Migrant Fruit Pickers Because Holy Crap That Is Hard Work)

Strawberry plants on a government farm, by Curtis & Miller, 1916, courtesy of the Library of Congress Photo Archive.*

Strawberry picking is miserable. You are crouched down in what our government might euphemistically call a “stress position,” you are baking in the sun, the sweat is accumulating aggressively in the wedge behind your knees, and you have to spend a fair amount of time picking to get any real volume. And if you’re me, you basically always get a sunburn on your lower back. If apple picking is at one end of the pick-your-own spectrum (cool weather, upright positions, shade, cider donuts, kicking rotting apples, the special picker tool they sometimes give you for high-up apples), strawberry picking is at the other.

I made you what is clearly a super-fancy albeit somewhat unorthodox venn diagram, colored in with crayons, depicting a range of pick-your-own options. Dave doesn’t think it makes sense, but he’s just jealous of my coloring skills.

But local strawberries were hovering right around $6.99 a quart and I wanted to make jam.

Intriguing question: how much would I need to earn a year to feel okay buying strawberries at $6.99 a quart for use in canning? I don’t even know, but a lot. I don’t like picking fruit in the heat— I get sweaty and sunburns and my back hurts— and if you factor in the amount I earn per hour in my job and compare it to the number of strawberries I can pick in an hour, it does not really make sense for me to be picking strawberries. And yet, $6.99 a quart! Maybe it’s my puritan roots, but buying three or four quarts of strawberries at $6.99 a quart to make little tiny jars of jam feels potentially indicative of a weakness of character on my part.

So I went strawberry picking. Happily, Kate at Blueberry Files went with me, which made the experience much more pleasant.** We made it to Maxwell's in Cape Elizabeth (“Southern Maine's Premier Strawberry Grower”) about three hours before they closed for the season and picked around 5 pounds each. She made strawberries in vanilla syrup, which sounds fantastic. I made a low-sugar strawberry jam.

I was going to include the whole recipe in this one post, but it was turning into the Longest Post Ever and it’s Friday afternoon, and hot outside, and I’ve got a bunch of work still, so I just felt like a super-long canning post is not what we need at the moment. So let’s just take a break, and we’ll meet up back here this weekend for the actual recipe. Are you excited? I am! (I mean, sort of, I already made the jam, so…)

* Real talk: the Library of Congress photo archive search results for “strawberries” or “strawberry pickers” is super, super depressing. For instance: this and this and this and this and this. And it’s very hard to talk about doing things for leisure that migrant workers are doing/have done in often deplorable conditions in this country for generations without really facing down one’s privilege.

** If you’re going to go strawberry picking, at the very least you should go with someone who will acknowledge the unpleasantness. The worst is having to act like this is some kind of feel-good, life-affirming outdoorsy adventure. You should also go with someone who wants to pick for approximately the same amount of time as you (weed out the people who are going to pick one pint and then amble around taking scenic pictures and also the people who are planning to freeze 20 pounds of strawberries to get them through the zombie apocalypse).

Filed under strawberries complaining