Strawberry Harvest

Strawberry Harvest

It’s strawberry season with the summer harvest lasting from the beginning of June well into mid-August in most states. Strawberries are one of summer’s favorite harvests and cultivated through-out the country.  Having originally grown wild and eaten as far back as the Roman times, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the strawberry was widely cultivated. Amazingly there are now over 600 varieties of strawberries all originating from just 4 or 5 species in the wild.  They are now grown in every state with California and Florida being the largest commercial producers and having the longest harvest seasons–from January all the way through to November with the peak seasons in these states being April through June.

Fresh strawberries can be found in supermarket stores but don’t forget your neighborhood farmer’s markets and local farms where you can pick the berries yourselves to enjoy them at their freshest.   The flavor ranges from tart to sweet with the flavor of the strawberry at its peak when just picked.  The larger the strawberry the more water content; the smaller the strawberry typically the more intense the flavor.

Strawberries don’t ripen after picking so make sure the strawberries you choose have a nice red color and are firm and plump with a green cap that appears fresh.  And don’t forget the smell!  Fresh strawberries have a delightful, fresh and sweet bouquet as they are a member of the rose family.  Remember, the key to enjoying your strawberries is to wash them just before using.  Strawberries will absorb water like a sponge so it is best to wait to rinse them.  Store them in a moisture-proof container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days for optimal flavor and best before 3-5 days.

Strawberries should be hulled for freezing or if not eating directly out of the hand.  Hulling involves removing the inedible green cap by placing a knife tip under the green cap and slowly turning.  Once you have made a full circle you can then just pull off the cap and a small amount of white part which is attached to the base of the stem of the strawberry.  There is also a strawberry hull (see below) that you can purchase to do the same task but the knife should work just as well. Strawberries can also be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.  It is best to freeze them in a single layer before placing them in containers for freezing.

Some of the ways to enjoy the fresh summer harvest of strawberries:

  • Cut up in a bowl and pour cream on top, sprinkle with sugar if desired
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar of a good quality
  • Cut up and put into a fruit salad with your choice of fruits
  • Dipped in dark, milk, or white chocolate
  • Dipped in yogurt and if more sweetness is desired follow with dipping in brown sugar
  • Fold cut strawberries into whipped cream for the easiest of desserts Strawberry Fool
  • Cut up the strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, let sit and use as a sauce over ice cream
  • Put them in a blender with some milk and ice cream for a strawberry shake
  • Create a salsa adding some simple ingredients such as in this Strawberry Poblano Salsa

Of course strawberries can be preserved in jams and jellies and made into baked goods.  Some popular baked goods include strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry crisp, and strawberry tart.  Click here for a variety of strawberry recipes to enjoy.  Whatever way you decide to enjoy your strawberries remember the harvest is sweetest just picked from the vine.

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  ~ an Old Irish blessing

Strawberry Hull:

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