This past weekend, we drove down to a farm two hours from our home and picked organic strawberries. The kids loved seeing the farm and the chickens, and my oldest, who is almost 8, really enjoyed picking the strawberries.
Why Buy Organic?
One of the main reasons we took this trip is because, as my window of food I can consume has narrowed and is now composed of mainly fruits, vegetables and meats thanks to a soy, dairy and possibly gluten intolerance, I am taking an increased interest in the food I eat. Because I am now eating so many fruits and vegetables, I want them to taste good AND be good for me. I find organic produce tastes better, so that is what I have been buying it.
Better for Us Physically
In addition, one of my kids is on a modified Feingold diet because he has a difficult time processing artificial food coloring and white sugar. When he is off those ingredients, he is much calmer. It is better for his health if I make the jam without sugar. Plus, strawberries are at the top of the dirty dozen for retaining pesticides, which is why I insist on buying organic strawberries.
Our two older kids pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day, but finding organic, sugar free jam has been difficult at best. When I do find it, it is often very pricy (10 oz. for $6.99). Costco used to carry a large jar that was reasonably priced, but they recently stopped carrying it.
How We Saved Money Buying Organic Strawberries
I had been in contact with the woman who runs the farm for a few weeks now, waiting for the perfect time to make the trip. She offers seconds, strawberries that are rejected for already picked strawberries, at a steep discount. She said the seconds would be perfect for jam if I wanted to keep my costs down (always a bonus!).
We picked for an hour and a half and ended up going home with the following:
7.5 lbs. of u-pick strawberries @ $2.99/lb – $22.42
9 lbs. of already picked strawberries @ 4.49/lb – $40.41
27 lbs of already picked seconds @ .99/lb – $26.73
All told, we brought home 43.5 lbs. of organic strawberries for a little shy of $90. That equates to $2.06/lb for organic strawberries.
The Hard Work Begins–Making Jam
You might remember that my husband is not convinced that canning is a worthwhile endeavor, so he chose to avoid helping at all. He did drive down to the farm with us so he could watch our littlest ones while my son and I picked, which I appreciate. It also made for a nice family trip, but when it came time to process the strawberries, I was on my own, or so I thought, but my son turned out to be a great helper. He helped me take the tops off the strawberries and prepare them for processing.
It took me about 8 hours to can 21 jars of jam. (If you are interested, this is the sugar free jam recipe I followed.) Of course, I am a canning newbie, so I think I was a bit slow. All of the jars had an airtight seal except one, which is in our refrigerator now. However, when I took the rings off after about 20 hours, I noticed that about 9 of the pint jars had water droplets inside, on the top of the lid. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I erred on the side of caution and emptied the contents, warmed it to a boil again and then put it in freezer containers and placed them in the freezer. (Should those water droplets have been there?)
Breakdown of the Cost of Our Jam
All told, we ended up with 13 pints, (1) 12 oz. jelly jar, and (7) 6 oz. jelly jar containers. That equates to 156 ounces.
All of the seconds were turned into jam. Our costs were as follows:
strawberries – $26.73
honey – $24.98
apples – $5.99
lids – $5.12
Total – $62.82
A jar of organic strawberry jam with no sugar added is $6.99 per 10 ounces as sold in the grocery store or Amazon. That equates to $.70 per ounce.
Ours comes out to $62.82 for 156 ounces. That equates to .40 per ounce.
We saved $46.38 by making our own jam, and we have the added benefit of knowing exactly where our food came from and how it was prepared.
We were also able to freeze about 15 lbs. of strawberries to use this winter for smoothies.
Next on our list is blueberries.