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Picking Strawberries

Posted by Denise on March 13, 2012

proud pickers

The happy strawberry pickers, Lynn, Andy, and Glenn, with 13 pounds of berries.

 

It is down to the final two weeks or so of strawberry season here in Florida. It has been a very good year for the juicy red berries. They have been prolific and tasted so sweet, more strawberry-ish than any I remember in years. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Sigh. I might have to head to the fridge to get a few…break time!

Strawberry season in Florida starts in December and goes until April. Go figure, but for some reason our sandy soils and mild winter weather makes Central Florida the world capital of winter strawberries. We even have a Strawberry Festival that takes place in February every year in Plant City, near Tampa. Florida grows at least six different types of strawberries, ripening at different times over the season.

We love to go to the u-pick fields to pick our own strawberries. There is so much satisfaction seeing where our food comes from and knowing the fruit is fresh and that it has ripened on the plant. It doesn’t take long either. And most of the time the u-pick field owners allow their patrons to eat as they pick…yummy!

 

strawberry

 

We recently went to a really nice u-pick strawberry field twice in a two-week period. The first time was a couple of weeks ago. My guys, never ones to back down from a challenge, picked 14 pounds of beautiful fresh strawberries, in spite of me gently saying that they didn’t have to fill of the containers they picked up. As Andy said, “Yes, we do Mom, we’re men.” I guess it’s the old hunter-gatherer instincts kicking in. Yikes! I was concerned about how we would use them all, but I didn’t need to worry. While I was at work the next day, Mom, who was visiting and Glenn, who had a day off, made mega batches of our wonderful Strawberry Freezer Jam. Problem solved! I came home from work to find jars, jars, and more jars of jam on the counter waiting to set up before being put into the freezer.

 

raised strawberry beds

                        strawberry field

                          Strawberries are grown on raised beds to keep the berries from sitting in moisture.

 

We had more ideas of what to do with more berries so we went back last week and picked nearly as many again, but sent a bunch home with Lynn for her family. We ate a lot of them plain. Washed up, they sat on the counter for anyone who walked by to snag one to eat. Oh, so good.

There are so many ways to use strawberries. One of our favorite ways is to rinse a pint of strawberries, remove the leaves and stems, then mash them slightly with a potato masher or large spoon, along with a couple of tablespoons of sugar, then pour them over a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream. We also have a strawberry pie recipe, plus several different cake recipes, a chocolate one, a strawberry rhubarb upside down cake, and an angel food one. We are adding more recipes using strawberries all of the time. Wait until you see the one we are adding later this week!

Strawberries are fairly fragile. After picking, they will last for a couple of days in the refrigerator, less if left out of the fridge. Don’t wash them until you are ready to use them, since they will spoil faster after you wash them. Always drain the berries well and dry them off after washing to keep them from spoiling faster. They can be frozen in a well-sealed container for several months.

 

Here are a few strawberry facts, just for the fun of it.

ü  One cup (about 8 medium) of strawberries gives you 140% of the vitamin C you need for the day.

ü  The same amount of strawberries have 0 fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein, and 4% of your daily iron needs.

ü  Strawberries have more flavor if allowed to come to room temperature before serving.

ü  Balsamic vinegar goes well with strawberries. So does all types of chocolate, almonds, vanilla, and many other ingredients.

 

 

 strawberries in beds


 

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