We were lucky enough to inherit a sour cherry tree when we bought our home 2 years ago. The yield is incredible, although the lack of pruning over the past 10 years has caused many of the berries to be out of reach. I've found that a 2x4 works well and I can get many of the ripe berries to fall to a tarp on the ground. It causes bruising on the fruit, but when it's turned into jam no one is the wiser, and it still tastes amazing. Last year I only froze them or dried them. I think I already like the jam option much better. You had better believe that we'll be planing another sour cherry tree in the future. The fruit is so delicious.
We also went strawberry picking earlier this week before the heat got unbearable. Between my mom and my older girls we picked about 25 lbs. of berries. Unbelievable! I only had a few jars on hand so most of the berries are frozen for now. They'll make great smoothies come the fall. The farm we went to also has raspberries for picking so I know I'll be back in a few weeks. And u-pick blueberries will be ripening soon too. I'm feeling pretty inspired to give blueberry/raspberry jam a whirl.
I'm new to picking and new to canning. In fact, this was the first time I'd ever gone strawberry picking and the first time I've ever made jam. There were two things that kept me from trying it before: 1) no equipment, and 2) the incredible amount of sugar I knew I'd need to make jam. My neighbors helped me out with the first by letting my borrow their big pot, jar lifter and funnel. And my sister-in-law clued me into this, no sugar pectin. Now I only add as much as I like, to taste. My parents also found a stash of extra jelly-sized canning jars their basement - left over from our wedding (they were our candle holders).
Between the fresh-baked artisan bread and sour cherry jam we're a pretty content family these days.