Summer is finally here and I am fully in jelly-making-mode. I want to preserve all the delicious flavors of summer in a hundred different ways.
Recently, I’ve been busy with rhubarb and elder flowers, and now strawberry is where it’s at. This Spring I preemptively prepared a strong tee made from freshly picked sweet woodruff on one of my hikes bc it pairs wonderfully with strawberry.
Yesterday we drove out to the small town of Wolkersdorf where there is a strawberry plantation, and we picked 9 pounds of tiny super intensely flavored strawberries.
It’s hard work picking strawberries, and I have really soar thighs today from crouching through strawberry patches for 2 hours. It was well worth it however! Ironically, there were so many people who passed by us and we continuously heard “there are no more strawberries left to pick”. I guess they don’t know that you really have to get down on your hands and knees to find them hiding in the shade of their own leaves.
As you can see from our bounty, we picked quite a few white-tipped strawberries. We did this on purpose since partially ripe berries have a stronger more intense flavor, and when made into jams and jellies the flavor come out better.
I spent an hour plucking off the green tops, but it was well worth it – the smaller the berry the more flavor that is jam-packed inside. And, of the nine pounds of berries I made strawberry jam, strawberry-sweet woodruff jam, strawberry-tarragon jam, strawberry-kiwi jam, and strawberry-chocolte-mint jam. A little goes a long way and there are so many combinations. Another favorite of mine is strawberry-pineapple jam.
No matter what combination of fruit I use, I always use a 3:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, and top off each boiling pot with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. Get out and get jamming to preserve the flavors of summer!
Today we decided to visit our “colleagues” at the Erlebnisbauernhof Auhof (Experience-Farm of Auhof) which is a special-education farm run by mentally handicapped adults and caregivers.
The farm is open to the general public and has a really big playground that kids of all ages can enjoying. Many decades ago, this used to be a real farm where they raised livestock and grew carrots and potatoes. Today there a a few animals of each kind: pigs, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, peacocks, horses, goats, and donkeys are “scattered” around the different areas of the farm. They sell plants in a self-run nursery and grow a lot of their own vegetables that you can enjoy in the salads that sell in a small restaurant with outdoor seating next to the playground. The playground is capped off by a field of fruit trees and a lovely relaxation garden that is cared for by a former employee who is retired and volunteers her time to keep the garden in tip top shape. The handicapped people who live in assisted-living apartments a block away come here regularly to enjoy the peacefulness of the garden, get their hands dirty with garden work, and do arts and crafts that are hung up in the different corners of the garden.
This is such a lovely oasis, and they are different events being held all summer long. There is no entry fee, so this is a great palce to visit with the whole family’s.
Today we went for a nice short hike around the forest surrounding the town of Heroldsberg. There a quite a few natural elements to see around here in the line of caves and stone formations.
It was father’s day so there were a lot of families hiking the same path as us, and however much I enjoy being in the forest when it’s silent, I think it’s great for families to get out in nature together.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dass out there.
We are taking advantage of the beautiful weather around here and drove out to Muhr am See – a tiny town on the Altmühlsee (Old Mill Lake). From here we gave the kids the task of leading the way to the lake where we wanted to visit the Vogelinsel (Bird Island) – a sanctuary built in the 80s for the local bird population.
I was a bit sceptical about the kids leading the way, but we made it – by walking through a field – to the island. The sanctuary is actually made up of many little islands and visitors can only reach a few by way of a series of bridges. It is a beautiful walk through shaddy grove. We didn’t see birds along our entire walk, but we definitely heard them, and there is a great lookout post built on one of the islands close to a beach filled with tons of different birds. We were really glad to visit at this time of the year because there were so many baby animals.
This is a really beautiful corner of Franconia, and if you are up for a longer trip, you can ride your bike around the entire lake on the smooth bike paths and stop and swim in the lake on one of its beaches or join one of the many wind surfers. There’s plenty to do here for the whole family.