Jelly is My Jam
Thanks to a sweet new Oklahoma Agritourism campaign, Oklahomans are reminiscing about cooking up jams and jellies with their grandparents and vowing to pass the art down to their young loved ones this summer.
The organization’s Jelly Making Trails are making it easier than ever for PB&J lovers to tour farms and ranches across Oklahoma, pick bushels of produce from the tree or vine and whip up their own jelly at home. The Jelly Making Trails’ map nearly 50 “u-pick” farms, ranches and greenhouses growing every tart and tasty fruit and berry, from strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries to grapes and peaches.
Agritourism’s Jamie Cummings says the Jelly Making Trails are as much about making memories as they are about educating Oklahoma residents on where and how their food is grown.
“Every farmer and rancher really has a passion for sharing where our food comes from and even where our clothes come from,” said Cummings, the program administrator in Agritourism for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
“That mission of sharing is part of all of this, and then creating those memories with families. It’s about going out and meeting the farmers, picking the fruit and having that experience together.”
Among the dozens of u-pick farms are Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree & Blackberry Farm in Edmond and Crestview Inc. Farms in Arcadia. Both are featured on the campaign’s “lush-n-lively” trail, which gives participants a glimpse of 10 farms and ranches around central Oklahoma.
Whether you want to stay close to home or explore the state, Oklahoma Agritourism makes it simple to map out your adventure. The Jelly Making Trails are broken up further into regions including the “jam-n-juicy” trail, “sweet-n-sticky,” “bright-n-bouncy,” “ripe-n-ready” and “plump-n-perky.” You can find more information about each farm, including what crops are in season throughout the year, on the Agritourism website. Cummings suggests calling the farms or checking out their social media pages before visiting to ensure what you’re looking for is in season and ready to be picked.
But, no matter what type of experience you’re looking for, Cummings said one thing is guaranteed: Your hosts will be excited to see you and share their know-how.
Agritourism is having jelly making be a social experience by asking trail-goers to tweet and Instagram photos of their trip and cooking adventures with the hashtag #JellyIsMyJam.
Cummings’ own favorite fruit—the strawberry—is what she is looking forward to picking the most. “There’s nothing better than an Oklahoma-grown strawberry.” She’s looking forward to turning it into a jam or jelly once they’re in season this summer. “This has actually encouraged me to make jelly because I’ve never done it before,” she said. “There’s so much value in doing it yourself. You get so much from that experience.”
The Jelly Making Trails kicked off May 2nd, and Cummings said Oklahoma’s farmers have been eager to meet local farm-to-table fans since. John Knight of Sorghum Mill Farm is one of them. “I thought it was a very good idea,” Knight said. “It’s something unusual. There are a lot of people around here who make jelly; you just don’t hear about them.”
It’s not uncommon for people to “show up in droves” to pick blackberries that have been known to grow as large as golf balls, according to Knight. He thinks the Jelly Making Trails and the showcasing of locally grown fruits, veggies and other crops will be an eye-opening experience for Oklahomans.
“It’s really good to get people interested in fresh fruits, and we have quite a few of them here in Oklahoma, actually,” Knight added. “Most people aren’t really aware of how much we do have.”