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Strawberries

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1178141362/gallery_29805_1195_15294.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">by Russ Parsons

The Daily Gullet couldn't be more proud to present this exclusive excerpt from Russ Parson's upcoming book How to Pick a Peach.

Several springs ago I was desperate to get my hands on some fresh wild strawberries. Unless you are a star chef with a secret supplier who hand-carries them to your back door, this is not an easy thing to do. In the first place, there aren't many farmers who grow them anymore. The ones who do tend to have only a few because the plants take so much labor and bear so little fruit. The season is vanishingly short, and the fruit is incredibly fragile. This last turned out to be the biggest sticking point.

After much research I actually did track down someone who had them, in hand and in season, but he was several hundred miles away. I told him that I would be happy to pay for shipping, but he refused. They were too delicate to ship, he said. I would pay for overnight. No way, he said, they'd never get to me in decent shape. I persisted: I wouldn't hold him responsible for any less-than-perfect berries. Finally, he caved in -- probably just to get me off the phone. The next day, a big box arrived. I opened it, and there, nestled among shipping materials, was a smaller box. I opened that, and wrapped in a mound of tissue paper was a tiny pint-size box. I opened that and found the most fragrant jam I've ever smelled. Even with all that care, the berries had been smashed beyond recognition.

And therein lies the paradox of the strawberry. In its wild state, it is a highly seasonal, wildly flavorful fruit that is as fragile as a soap bubble. Yet in our passion for it, we have managed to turn this dreamy berry into a year-round staple as resilient as Styrofoam and only a little more flavorful. It wasn't so long ago that strawberries were a food you anticipated all through the winter and then gorged on in a brief frenzy that was a ritual of spring. Today it's a year-round garnish, the parsley of the breakfast plate. You can buy fresh, American-grown strawberries at least eleven months out of the year. More than 80 percent of them come from California, which produces more than a billion pounds in total. That means the strawberries have to be able to withstand a four-day truck ride to make it to the East Coast.

To provide a year-round supply, farmers harvest strawberries from one end of the state to the other, beginning in San Diego and Orange County in the south right around Christmas and gradually moving north as the season progresses and the weather warms, finishing up around Watsonville, just south of San Francisco, around Thanksgiving. In a good year, one with a mild and extended summer, strawberries never go out of season.

And yet finding a berry with true flavor -- the kind that stops you in your tracks when you taste it -- just keeps getting harder. There is a solution, though. Despite the fact that California has an overwhelming commercial edge, strawberries are one of the most widely grown farmers' market fruits. And this is one case where the old "buy local; buy seasonal" mantra really pays off.

Locally grown berries, which don't have to make a crosscountry trek before you can eat them, will almost always be juicier and more flavorful than their commercial counterparts -- even if they're grown from the same variety. And fortunately, strawberries are almost uniquely fitted for small farmers. Although they demand a lot of extremely tedious handwork to grow, they offer among the highest cash returns to farmers.

So lucrative are strawberries that even in these days of consolidation and ever bigger farms, it's possible for a grower to make a living on less than ten acres. That's why strawberries are the overwhelming favorite of urban farmers -- those hardy souls who practice agriculture in the small, often temporary open spaces found in cities. You can find farmers growing strawberries on a couple of acres under power lines, and you can find them tending their fields on land that is being cleared for housing developments (in these cases, strawberry fields are definitely not forever).

This friendliness to small-scale, transient farming is the reason behind one of the more interesting chapters in the history of American strawberry farming. At the turn of the century, when the California strawberry industry was just becoming established, it was heavily populated by Japanese immigrants. The labor-intensive, highly profitable farming was ideal for growers with extended families. Furthermore, these growers were able to turn another of the strawberry's weaknesses to their advantage. Strawberries are susceptible to all kinds of pests, many of which were not controlled until after the advent of chemical pesticides after World War II. Verticillium wilt is particularly vexing. Until the 1950s the soilbound fungus that causes the wilt would kill any strawberry field that remained planted in the same location for more than a couple of years. This vulnerability forced strawberry growers to be a highly mobile lot, and most of them rented land rather than owning it.

The situation was ideal for Japanese American growers, because in the early part of the twentieth century, it was illegal for them to own land in California. These growers turned two negatives into a positive by focusing on strawberries. A survey taken in 1910 found that almost 80 percent of the strawberry growers in Los Angeles County were Japanese American. When the Central California Berry Growing Association, the first strawberry marketing co-op, was founded in 1917, the bylaws required that half of the board of directors be Japanese American -- an extraordinary move during a period so virulently anti-Japanese.

Certainly, today's small strawberry growers do not face anywhere near the same hurdles as the Japanese American farmers did a century ago. But that is not to say that their lot is a walk in the park. In particular, they have to deal with sometimes cranky neighbors, for whom the realities of agriculture -- dust, early mornings, lots of workers coming and going, occasional spraying -- do not quite mesh with their idea of the good life. But because strawberries are so valued by fruit lovers -- especially good strawberries, picked ripe and shipped only across town rather than across the country -- these farmers are able to earn enough to make it worthwhile.

When you do get those perfect berries, remember that they almost always taste best uncooked. The red color of berries comes from the pigment anthocyanin, which is not heat stable. If you cook strawberries by themselves, that lovely crimson color will turn to a bruised purple. But acidity will stabilize the pigment, so add some lemon or orange juice (or bake them with rhubarb), and the color will remain red. You can "cook" strawberries without heat, though. Sugar draws moisture out of strawberries and mixes with the extracted juice to form a delicious sauce. In some cases, this can be bad -- if you want the berries to remain slightly firm, don't sugar them too far in advance of serving, or they'll go limp. In other cases, the sugaring is a big help -- sugar strawberries for ice cream well in advance of freezing, and because of the extracted moisture, you won't end up with ice cubes in your ice cream.

WHERE THEY'RE GROWN: The vast majority of commercial strawberries are grown in California. But strawberries are one of the leading "small-farm" crops around the country. Varieties that are grown for the local market -- without the necessity of shipping -- are almost guaranteed to be better than most commercial berries.

HOW TO CHOOSE: There are a lot of little indicators of strawberry quality, but the most important is probably the simplest: smell. Great strawberries have a distinctive candied aroma that you can't miss. Beyond that, the berries should be completely red (the exact shade of red will depend on the variety); avoid any with white tips. The green hull should look fresh, not dried out. The berries should be glossy, without any matte spots where the flesh has started to break down. Always look at the underside of the berry basket -- that's where crushed berries may be hiding and where spoilage will start. It's not at all uncommon to pick up a basket of berries that are beautiful on top but are as gray and fuzzy as a freshman dorm refrigerator underneath.

HOW TO STORE: This is a tough one, because refrigerating damages the flavor of strawberries, but the fruit is so tender that not chilling will lead to rapid spoilage. The best solution is to buy berries from a local farmer and eat them the same day without putting them in the refrigerator. Failing that, transfer the berries to a plastic bag (to prevent excessive drying) lined with a paper towel (to absorb excessive moisture) and refrigerate them.

HOW TO PREPARE: Don't rinse strawberries until just before you're ready to use them; the moisture will speed decay. And don't remove the green hulls until after you've rinsed the berries. Those caps prevent the berries from soaking up too much water. Once they've been rinsed, gently blot them dry with a paper towel.

ONE SIMPLE DISH: Whisk together a bottle of light red wine or rosé and a cup of sugar. Add a split vanilla bean. Cut up 2 pints of strawberries and add them to the wine mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Ladle the strawberry soup into bowls and serve each with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a crisp cookie.

Ole's Swedish Hotcakes with Quick Strawberry Compote

Of all the breakfasts in the world, this recipe, adapted from one prepared at the Little River Inn just south of the town of Mendocino, California, is one of my favorites. The pancakes are served with a big spoonful of strawberry compote in the center. To really gild the lily, you can top that with a spoonful of whipped cream.

4 SERVINGS

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

Grated zest of 1 orange

3 large eggs, separated

Quick Strawberry Compote (recipe follows)

Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half and orange zest. The mixture will be very liquid; don't worry.

Whisk in the egg yolks. This will thicken the batter slightly. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and stir them gently into the batter. (You don't need to fold them; the batter is not that delicate.) This will thicken the batter to about the consistency of a good homemade eggnog. Whisk in the melted butter. (The recipe can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated, tightly covered, overnight.)

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water skitter across the surface. Slowly pour ½ cup of the batter in the center of the skillet, forming as much of a circle as you can. (Using a ladle or measuring cup with a lip makes this easier.)

Cook until the bottom of the pancake is lightly browned and the top begins to look slightly dry, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until it feels somewhat firm when pressed lightly in the center, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the pan and keep warm in a 200-degree oven as you continue with the rest of the batter. Serve 2 pancakes per person, with a generous portion of compote.

Quick Strawberry Compote

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

1/2 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times just to chop the berries small. Do not puree.

Transfer the mixture to a small nonstick skillet and cook over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry Preserves

By preparing preserves in small batches, the jam will cook quickly enough that the fruit retains its fresh taste. This recipe works best by weight. (How else would you know if you were a few strawberries short of a pint?) Use equal amounts of fruit and sugar. We've listed approximate volume measures if you don't have a scale (2 pints of strawberries weigh about 2 pounds).

If you haven't made jam before, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the basics on pages 109–11. You do need to sugar the berries the night before.

MAKES FIVE 8-OUNCE JARS

2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled and cut into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)

2 pounds sugar (about 4 cups)

Juice of 1 lemon or orange

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large pot and heat slowly until the juices are clear, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon (or orange) juice, then cover loosely and let stand overnight.

The next day, get everything ready for canning. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 5 sets of jars and lids, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you're ready to use them.

Heat 2 cups of the strawberries and juice in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the strawberries start to simmer, cook, stirring often, until the preserves test done (see page 111), 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rims. Cover each jar with a lid and fasten the ring tight. Set aside and repeat with the remaining strawberries and juice.

Seal according to instructions on page 111.

<div align="center">* * * * *</div>

How to Pick a Peach is available on Amazon.com. Please support good food writing, Russ Parsons and the Society, by using this link.

One of the foremost food journalists of the nation, Russ Parsons is the food and wine columnist of the Los Angeles Times. He has been writing about food and agriculture for more than twenty years and has won many James Beard Awards for his newspaper articles, as well as the IACP/Bert Greene Award for distinguished writing. He lives in California, which produces more than half of the fruits and vegetables grown in this country.

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What a bright beginning to this rainy morning!!!

Remembrances of the seeking, the picking, the gentler-than-baby handling, and my own dear Mammaw's recipe---payound for payound with sugar---lovely to wake up to, and lovely to anticipate a scurry to Borders.

Thank you for the wonderful first-read of the day.

rachel

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Russ, you wrote:

Locally grown berries, which don't have to make a crosscountry trek before you can eat them, will almost always be juicier and more flavorful than their commercial counterparts -- even if they're grown from the same variety.

Is that because they're picked later?

You also got me wondering about varieties. Those big-ass strawberries that seem to be the supermarket standard, do they have a name (besides "strawberries")? What about the little ones (those are my favorite)? I'm assuming size is a function of variety, but maybe not.

I remember in maybe 1998 we drove from San Diego to Vancouver, and there was one stretch somewhere in the middle of California where there were strawberry fields as far as the eye could see, for mile after mile. We stopped to buy some strawberries from a roadside stand, and as we ate them in the car we were like, hey, these suck! So we drove a few more miles and tried another roadside stand. We couldn't find a single decent strawberry. It was actually a defining moment in my view of California produce, because up until then I had been conditioned to think that California is this produce paradise. And I guess it can be, but lots of the flavorless industrial produce tends to come from there too.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We wanted rather a lot of strawberries for a mid-April morning party, so we placed an advance order with a fruitstand on Del Dios highway in San Diego. When we came to pick up the fruit the morning before the party (if we could, we'd have waited til the day of, but time did not permit), they told us they'd left the fruit in the field an extra day before picking it for us. We could taste the truth in that.

It was also evident in the decay rate of the fruit. Worth it. Without question.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Apparently California accounts for 87% of the domestic strawberry production - if the bulk of the white-shouldered identical berries found in grocery stores come from here, it seems unwise to buy berries from a road-side stand in front of an 800,000 acre strawberry farm in the middle of nowhere. Farms like Ella Bella, Dirty Girl, and others grow berries that taste and smell like strawberries, deep red and juicy but they're only available a few months of the year.

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Thanks all. The issue of strawberries is complicated (this is just one part of my discussion of it in the book; there's also an essay on plant breeding that addresses lots of the nitty gritty).

FG, the reason locally grown berries are usually better is "d) all of the above".

A big part of it is varietal--there are several strawberry varieties (though unlike, say, peaches and nectarines, it's a fairly limited stable) and the big strawberry guys, Driscoll and the University of California, are breeding berries that will hold up to shipping. As Melkor points out, California produces almost all of the commercial berries grown in the US, which means those strawberries need to be able to travel to Maine and still look good. Local growers are not so limited.

Part of it is ripeness, though probably not as much as you might think. Strawberries do soften some during ripening, but the parameters of how much are varietally based: a Camarosa (still the dominant UC variety) will be firmer at full ripeness than an under-ripe Chandler (the big berry for the 1990s, and, in my humble opinion, one with far superior flavor).

I think it's also important to remember that as with any other agricultural product, a big part of the flavor equation is the person growing them. Good growing takes talent and care and the more plants there are to tend, the more thinly that talent and care is spread. A great grower with 20 acres might produce fruit that is only as good as a good grower working 2 acres (for the most part, strawberries take so much handwork that field sizes are much smaller than for most other crops). Of course, what you're looking for is a great grower working 2 acres and what you all to often find is a good grower (or less) working 20.

Still another factor is the retail setting in which you're buying the berries. If you're at a supermarket, 9 times out of 10 you're buying commodity berries and the only financial incentive the grower had was growing more berries. At a farmers market or farm stand, the grower actually gets more money for growing berries with more flavor, with predictable results.

Size is a function of variety, plant vigor and happenstance. On the same strawberry plant, you'll find small berries and larger berries. If the plant is healthy, the berries will be even bigger, and if it is a variety that was selected for berry size, they'll be bigger still. That said, I find size to be an erratic indicator of quality. Certainly, your "big ass berries" will most often be hard (that's a function of the variety). But small berries are not invariably more tender or more flavorful.

In the end, it all comes down to a very simple and very difficult proposition: Find a good farmer and be willing to pay more for quality.

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...

You also got me wondering about varieties. Those big-ass strawberries that seem to be the supermarket standard, do they have a name (besides "strawberries")? What about the little ones (those are my favorite)? I'm assuming size is a function of variety, but maybe not.

...

I'm sure Russ will have more information, but here is a previous discussion thread on frais des bois and different strawberry cultivars: click

I've tasted the Mara des Bois from a local farm in season (late June); they reallly were great.

Thank you for sharing a preview of your book with us, Russ.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Here's another relevant thread from the past: Strawberries...going the way of Red Delicious?.

It's good to know you cover this particular berry at great length in your book, Russ. I have to nod at comments made about the difference between the pleasures of waiting for the weeks that strawberries are at their peak in spring and what we expect now: chocolate-coated strawberries on Valentine's Day and placed on the other side of bottles of white wine and seltzer from the shrimp and chicken satay, trays of green grapes, strawberries and pineappple at catered events year-round.

Perhaps the issue has come up before, but Driscoll's really dominates the market and now offers organic berries at Whole Foods, for example.

Is there any way consumers can effect change and topple the regime of the hyper berries with fuzzy white hollow centers?

I'm thinking of boycotts of Gallo wine, grapes, higher-priced sugar, etc. Who knows how influential they were, but clearly that is not the answer. Even if we put aside the fact that many shoppers do not take seasonality into account when buying produce, I have to wonder how many of us have tasted excellent fruit picked nearby.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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P.S. I know strawberries are classified as vegetables.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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remember that every time you make a purchase, you're casting your vote for what kind of food you want.

If I could cross-stitch, I'd put that on a pillow.

I can still remember standing in line at a farm in Modesto, California, early on Saturday mornings during berry season. I can't remember the name of the farm but I remember a lot of the people I met on those days -- we'd bring coffee, and coo over the babies, pass around business cards, and wait for an hour or more until we could see the trucks coming in from the fields with flats of berries.

Instead of forgetting how intense their color, and their flavor, I remember it more every time I have a strawberry in March, here in NY.

Thanks for the excerpt -- can't wait to read the whole thing.


Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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Great read! I too had wondered why the hell supermarket strawberries suck even here in SoCal, when I know they're growing them just a few miles away. But yeah, supermarket strawberries are supermarket strawberries. I should know better than to buy them, but sometimes I give 'em a go anyway. Hey, at least they're good roughage! :laugh:

When I was in North Carolina this past weekend visiting the nephews, we visited a U-pick strawberry farm. They still looked like the supermarket variety, but getting them fresh out of the fields did help the flavor issue at least a little.

Found the historical note on Japanese-American strawberry growers fascinating ... the moreso because even once their US-born offspring got the right to own land, those on the West Coast had that land yanked out from under them when they were sent to the WWII relocation camps. Somehow I think there was some definite strawberry-farm envy (and land-grabbing opportunism in general) along with jingoistic war-hysteria behind that sad chapter in US history. I had an acquaintance back in Seattle whose family owned a strawberry farm on Vashon Island before they were shipped off to the camps.

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the whole Japanese-American relocation is a very complicated story and very interesting in its nuance. Historically, the Japanese had been relatively recent newcomers to the United States and concentrated in only a few areas. Furthermore, the Japanese who came in the early part of the century traditionally were more like migrant workers who visit an area, then return home rather than become part of the society. indeed, all around Southern California there were Japanese villages that were almost all male, almost all strawberry growers (oddly enough, Compton was one). They held themselves separate from the mainstream community (broadly speaking--there were exceptions). Things had changed by 1941, but certainly not enough.

This is not in any way to excuse what happened. It was a shameful chapter in American history. Instead, I think it illustrates the danger of thinking of groups as "others". I remember having a conversation with a farmer about this (I did a long piece for the Times on the history of Japanese Americans in the strawberry business that ended up being that one paragraph in the book). His position was that because of the "relocation", nothing like it could ever happen again. I argued that I could certainly see how it could. That was just before 9/11.

[edited to be better written.]


Edited by russ parsons (log)

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My favorite, by far is the Seascape strawberry. Wow, to smell it from across the farmers market... love at first smell :)

Too bad I'm at the other end of the country from the SM farmers market now!

Arturo

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I had fantastic stawberries last summer from a stand in Watsonville surrounded by strawberry fields. Best I've ever had. Upon discussion with the owner, I learned that the strawberries came from 7 miles away, from an independent grower that was raising for the local market. The fields around the stand had nothing to do with the stand, they were operated by contract growers who sold their entitre crop for processing and the supermarket trade. The local market strawberries do not ship well, according to the owner. The stand pre-dated WWII, and I suspect that at one time, it did sell strawberries from the field it was in the middle of.

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When I was in North Carolina this past weekend visiting the nephews, we visited a U-pick strawberry farm. They still looked like the supermarket variety, but getting them fresh out of the fields did help the flavor issue at least a little.

I don't know where in NC you might have been, but I spent strawberry season of 2004 and 2005 in the bustling metropolis of Wilson, which is about 40 miles east of Raleigh. They grow a LOT of strawberries around there, and there are pick-your-own places, most of which also sell already-picked fruit--a far more appealing option to me. The differences between one farm and another with respect to quality of the berries were just amazing. Some were barely better than supermarket strawberries--i.e., not worth eating. Others were amazing little mouth-bombs of intense flavor and juiciness, with that characteristic vivid red all the way to the middle of the berry. 2005 was a long, cool spring in that area, with the result that the strawberries kept coming in for weeks and weeks, and some of the fruit I got at Maggie's Farm was among the best I've ever eaten anywhere. (Maggie's is a bit east of the Wilson exit from I-95, about a mile off Alt-264 on Merck Rd., for anyone near there who wants to give them your business. Very nice folks.) Still no strawberries around here (Washington DC), but I imagine they're coming in bountifully in North Carolina now.

As to the size aspect: My theory is that each strawberry gets the same amount of flavor, but in larger berries it's diffused across so much territory that the total effect is one of flavorlessness. I really do find that among strawberries from the same crop, the larger ones will have less intense flavor than the smaller ones.

Gosh, I wish I had some strawberries. I would gladly pay $20 a pound for good ones.

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Are you saying that strawberries are not supposed to be crunchy?? :shock: Well, who knew!

I well remember pinching the stringers, dealing with the ants and the birds that invaded our strawberry patch. For some reason, that was my job as a kid, but the memory of those strongly flavored berries lingers on. It's few and far between to find that flavor now.

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Strawberries are the easiest things to grow, at least in temperate climates. Mine are blooming now and threatening to take over the backyard. You can even grow them in strawberry pots if you don't have a yard. They are not an unpleasant ground cover either for the remainder of the year. It's basically the only thing I grow successfully because they need so little care. I only have three rows and I pick tons in season. I preserve mine in the best way possible - making strawberry flavored liquor from 100% proof vodka and simple syrup. A wee dram of it on a winter's evening is enough to remind you that summer will indeed come again.

The smell and taste of a fresh, ripe strawberry picked in the warm morning sunshine, still damp from an evening shower, is the essence of my childhood. Proust's madeleine was just a damn sugar cookie compared to that.

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Our strawbery patch at home would produce over a quart a day (personal consumption, not commercial).

My mother tilled it up.

I think I need to check her medication.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Russ, Fat Guy some time ago started a thread on frozen foods that don't suck, and we discussed berries that are picked when really ripe and frozen as one such food. Many of us agreed that Cascadian Farm tends to make good products, especially in terms of their frozen berries and peaches. How do you rate these products against out of season "fresh" strawberries? And do you freeze any strawberries yourself?


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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I think there are basically two types of (cultivated) strawberries (at least in OR): June-bearing and ever-bearing. If you grow June-bearing, then you'll get alot of strawberries ripening all at once, ever-bearing, you keep harvesting them over the course of the summer. Tristar is an everbearer according to the Territorial Seed and Plant catalogue. Last year, my friend's plants kept making fruit into the fall but it got too cold and wet by late October for them to ripen. She has quite a few plants but everyone likes them so much that not that many even make it up to the house.

I believe there used to be a fair amount of commercial strawberry growing in OR but apparently farmers had difficulty getting labor at picking time and there were a few wet springs that significantly reduced the crop.

I have a native coast strawberry growing (vigorously) in my backyard. I get some berries, pretty small but flavorful. I don't get that many because I have to mow what grass there is or it'll reach 3 feet by May and that means some of the strawberry leaves and flowers get mown as well. I have to beat the slugs to the fruit too.

If you really like strawberries, it's not hard to grow them. I used to see strawberries towers for sale, taking up total of about 3 feet square (4 feet high)--if they worked, you might be able to grow them on a balcony.

It'd be worth trying, as eating a few fresh picked ripe strawberries in the morning is like eating bits of the sun transformed into flavor.

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BTW, Her Majesty does not care for strawberries ("The Crowning Touch" in The Washington Post, May 7, 2007.)

Careful research in preparation for Queen Elizabeth II's trip to the horse races focussed on organic ingredients, instead, so she might have skipped the salad. "Food Fit for a Queen". Courier-Journal, 5/02/07.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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BTW, Her Majesty does not care for strawberries ("The Crowning Touch" in The Washington Post, May 7, 2007.)

Careful research in preparation for Queen Elizabeth II's trip to the horse races focussed on organic ingredients, instead, so she might have skipped the salad.  "Food Fit for a Queen". Courier-Journal, 5/02/07.

Apparently she also likes fast food....15 minutes to greet and eat. Charming.

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