We’re going to take a brief detour from our FYI Gum Paste series, but don’t worry we’ll be right back to it in no time. It’s strawberry season and we need to take advantage.
We all try to do our part and eat local. It’s good for the economy and the environment. And it tastes delicious. It’s easy to do in the summer, but it can get a little harder once the farmers market start to close up in the fall. We need to pick up some long used skills that would have been second nature to our grandmothers.
The first, and most basic skill: How to Harvest Produce. Head down to your local pick-your-own berry farm and get ready to go strawberry picking.
Grab a couple of baskets and hop on the bed of the tractor. Soon you’ll be bumping along the field towards the designated strawberry patch.
Strawberry Picking Rule #1: Stay in your row, pick the berries that are growing to the inside. Unless your neighbour has moved on and you see a few choice berries they missed. Then it’s fair game.
Strawberry Picking Rule #2: Only pick the red berries. Be sure you don’t damage the ones that are green and unripe, that way there will be more bright red goodies in a week or two.
Strawberry Picking Rule #3: Be careful of berries that rest on the ground. They may look bright and pretty, but 9 times out of 10 they are bruised or a little insect has already helped themselves to lunch.
Strawberry Picking Rule #4: Don’t Pick under ripe berries. You want the ones that have a nice deep red colour.
Strawberry Picking Rule #5: Big berries are great for eating. But when you want to can, puree or freeze berries choose the smaller ripe ones. They have less water content and a more concentrated flavor.
Strawberry Picking Rule #6: When you have filled your basket make sure you can fit your hand under the handle.
The Golden Rule of Strawberry Picking: Everyone must have a sampling of the berries while picking. Quality control don’t you know?
Even though it was only 10 in the morning the field was filled with people of all ages. It’s great to watch the children wondering around smiling as strawberry juice trails down their chins. To me, that is the image of summer.
Be sure to check and see if your berry farm has any other pick-your-own produce. We’ll be back to ours for Raspberries and Pumpkins. We might even give the Snap Beans a go.
Tomorrow I’ll show you how to freeze and puree strawberries as well as walk you through the simpliest way to make delicious jam that will have everyone you know knocking on your door.