100 lbs.



“The strawberry is the wonder of all the fruits…”
Roger Williams
founder of Providence in 1636




The truck was cleaned and ready to go. The morning chores had been finished and breakfast had been hastily eaten. Two loads of laundry hung fresh and clean on the laundry line, snapping in the wind.

Ringing the bell (which is a standard in our home – I  try to use a bell instead of calling the girls) signaled it was time to leave. Little girls quickly strapped on their shoes and ran out the back screen door, letting it slam shut as they shot out of the house. Their squeals and squabbles filled my ears as they tumbled into the car to find their seats. I carried baby Loyal on my hip and placed my big straw hat on my head.

“Okay, let’s go! We want to get picking before it gets too hot,” I said, as the girls clambered throughout the  big 12 seater van. My eldest strapped the two year old boy into his carseat and we all sang happily as we drove the five minute drive to the local organic strawberry patch. I knew we had to leave early if we were to pick before the baby began to fuss for his morning nap. Plus, it is best to pick berries in the cool of a summer morning, as opposed to working in the dry heat of June.


It has been a yearly tradition for the girls & I to go strawberry picking for as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl,  I remember following my enthusiastic mother into the local strawberry fields, dreading the heat, but excited for the taste of June’s juicy berries that were headed into my cardboard basket. In fact, later, my sister and I were employed at the same strawberry farm to pick berries for the owner. As I crouched down in the hot fields, the sun beating down on my braided hair, strawberries staining the seat of my pants, I was always jealous of my older sister’s job at the same farm. She, just two years old, was promoted and now wore a bright x-marked vest that marked her superiority on the farm, she had surpassed the mundane job of just picking berries and was the one that organized where customers were to pick and even helped at the checkout stand, an old wooden shack at the beginning of the field. In any case, the monotonus task of picking hundreds of berries in Ontario summer heat was a good job for this young girl. It is always good to be challenged to have such a task to teach consistency, hard work and a steady pace at your task.


Now, with eight children toddling behind me, I had parked our big family van and was now walking into the strawberry fields with all the children following behind like little ducklings. Each girl was given a task of filling two baskets. Of course, we would help the younger ones fill their little baskets as soon as ours were filled. My little son was enamored with the big tractors parked at the edge of the fields- he pointed to them and said his favorite word, “Ta!”, as we walked slowly into the field.


Within an hour, we were finished our task and it was time to pack up and head home to hull the berries. I am so thankful that the girls did not complain and everyone seemed to still be somewhat cheerful about the day’s work ahead of us.

After the berries were paid for, we returned home and spread the berries out on the outdoor kitchen table. The girls donned some aprons (even though their dresses were already strawberry smeared) and I put up the third load of laundry on the line. Today was going to be a productive day, indeed.

With the help of listening to Jonathon Park CDs, we hulled berries until noon. Then, the lovely red strawberries were washed and covered and put aside for tomorrow’s jam and preserve making.

What a blessing to have a mighty crew of lovely ladies to help me! So many times I hear that it must be so much work to have eight children. Why, yes, it is work, it is not easy to be pregnant eight times and to have babies that need tending and gentle care year after year … and yet, here I am now, reaping the benefits of older children helping their mother and the blessings of younger children entertaining us while we work. 🙂


Children can truly be blessings to their families. I have always heard from a popular parenting speaker that he taught his children chores and to work with the family.

“This is a home, not a hotel,” he would say over and over.

And I agree with that. Work does not have to be dreary either. We often have something to listen to while we work and that helps pass the time. We find with so many helpers, sometimes it will only take an hour or two before the task is completed.

Later, my eldest was encouraged to make a pot of bubbling strawberry jam, which tasted divine.

Lovelyn, 7, helped me make a batch of strawberry lemonade concentrate, which we also canned. It was delicious served with our lunch!


While the eldest made jam, I made up some pie dough and placed it in the fridge for a future pie. I believe I shall bake one today, seeing as my husband is home for the day today. I also canned 10 jars of strawberry pie filling for future pies.



The following day, the strawberry picking scene was repeated as we returned, armed with the same amount of baskets, to pick another 50 lbs of strawberries. In total, we picked approximately 100 lbs of lovely, red, sweet tasting strawberries for the year’s supply. What a blessing! Strawberries may be used in so many recipes – you really can’t go wrong with a freezer and Provision Room full of strawberry preserves.


Would you like to share in our recipes? I will post them below.

There are so many lovely ways strawberries. Pictured below is a yummy afternoon treat of a scone with whipped cream and strawberries on top. Just perfect with a cup of tea!




Here are some recipes for your enjoyment:


Strawberry Pie Filling {to fill 7 quarts}

                    6 quarts of fresh strawberries                                
4-6 cups of sugar
                                                     2 1/4 cups of Clear Jel or Thermflo                                                                    
                                                                         7 cups of cold water                                                                                                                        1/2 cup of lemon Juice

** Please, feel free to adjust the sugar to your preference. In the case of pie filling, one can simply reduce the sugar and add some back if needed when making the pie. I usually add less than required. In the case of jam making, they say the amount of sugar is required to make the jam set. If you do not mind a runnier jam, then feel free to reduce the sugar, as well.**

Wash strawberries and drain fruit in a covered bowl or pot. Combine sugar and clear jel or thermflo in a large pot, stirring often. Slowly add the cold water.  Cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Mix quickly to a smooth consistency.  Now it is time to add the lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in the beautiful, washed berries immediately and fill quart jars with mixture. Be sure to leave 1 1/2 inch headspace or else your jar will not seal and the mixture will bubble over the jar edge.  Remove air bubbles with a knife by poking it down into the jar and gently moving the mixture around. Refill if necessary. Wipe rims clean with a hot, sterile rag, add hot lids/rings and process in water bath for 30 minutes at a full rolling boil.
Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate {From Simply Canning}
(This recipe will make 7 16oz. pint jars)
6 cups of hulled, washed strawberries
4 cups of lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
4-6 cups of sugar

Puree strawberries with a stick mixer or blender until smooth. Transfer to a large pot. Add lemon juice and sugar to the puree, stirring well. Heat to about 190 degrees F over medium heat, stirring to keep from burning. Try not to boil the mixture. If foamy on top, remove the foam. Ladle the juice into your hot, clean jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean with a hot, clean rag and put on your new canning lids. Water bath in full pot of water for 15 minutes at a roiling boil.


June 29, 2018 - 5:17 am

Gigi Rebecca, thank you! I have never heard of that pectin. I will check it out.

June 27, 2018 - 12:05 pm

Gigi Absolutely re-using if you can! You can buy old canning jars in the thrift store, too, as you only need new sealing lids each year. So long as the jar is not cracked, you are okay to re-use.We have a huge collection of jars, but it is so worth it. We did have to buy lots of new ones to keep up with the jar demand, but now I only need the seals every year (which you can even find at the dollar store). Any books by Ball are good to use as a reference for canning.

June 27, 2018 - 11:38 am

Kristal Beautifully written Gillian! I’m wondering, what is your advice on colelcting so many mason jars for canning? Would you recommend always purchasing new and then reusing each year? Any recommended books on canning? Thanks! You are always an encouragement. 🙂

June 26, 2018 - 5:31 pm

Gigi Time for you to go picking again, Bethany! 🙂

June 26, 2018 - 5:29 pm

Bethany This makes me so nostalgic! I have such good memories as a kid going with my Mom and sister to a U-Pick just down the road and was amazed how much we could pick even just in an hour! And yes, strawberries are amazing in so many recipes! There is such a sense of satisfaction in picking your own.

June 24, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Allie Hi Gillian, long term reader of your blog but first time commenting. You’ve definitely encouraged me to savor the beginning of summer and take the children out to the strawberry patch! All those recipes sound divine, but the strawberry concentrate recipe sounds especially good! How many cups of water would I eventually mix the concentrate with? Or what do you generally do?

June 24, 2018 - 3:59 am

Rebecca Kurber I wish we had a strawberry farm nearby but alas, none that I know of, and the last two years the grocery stores haven’t had organic strawberries to buy (at least at a reasonable price). Life in Alaska!

I’ve been making a bunch of jellies and jams lately though, and I use Pomona’s Pectin because you can use way less sugar (or even honey or other sweeteners) and still get a set. You can even buy it online in bulk, which I think I will start doing now that I am canning so much more. Just thought I would share in case you haven’t heard of it!

June 23, 2018 - 10:02 pm

Heather Thanks for the info about the farm Gillian 🙂 I might take Hazel out strawberry picking. I love seeing the pictures of your growing babies!

June 23, 2018 - 5:20 pm

Monica I hate I let our strawberry season get away from us without us going to pick any. We have a u-pick farm about 40 mins away. Our strawberries are always ready here first of May. I did plant some strawberry plants this year so I hope that in a few years’ time, we shall have our own harvest! Right now for us, tomatoes are in season. I’m getting a basket full daily. This morning I went to my in-laws and picked bell peppers and jalapeños in hopes of canning some salsa later on!

Lovely pictures of your strawberry pickers! From having six children, I could feel your relief that things went so smoothly. It always seems I hold my breath when we have to go somewhere together and exhale once we get home with the job accomplished! PS. Would love to hear an update on the mini horse…

June 23, 2018 - 9:52 am

Paula Lovely. Picking strawberry days with my family in the 1960’s is in my memory bank. Your story brings it all back in a beautiful way for me. The way the field smells, the heat, the taste of the perfect berry, seeing which sibling can pick the most, red stained hands. All of that is still here in my brain. Thank you. It’s more than just picking berries that you are giving your children….

June 23, 2018 - 5:48 am

Gigi So lovely to hear from you. I think of you often! 🙂 You are very special to me!
I posted a link to the farm – Maple Grove Farm just off Airport Road!

June 22, 2018 - 11:25 pm

Heather Hi Gillian! Which farm do you get your strawberries from?