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Strawberries

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Well, I've started buying strawberries again since last Sept/Oct. I've been seeing more strawberries from CA in the grocery store at a reasonable price. I keep buying strawberries with high hope they will taste like the berries my granmother used to offer me or the berries I use to buy in NJ (I lived about 200 yards from a field that grew berries in the spring in the mid 90s). And the problem is they never do.

The berries I used to get were small, deep/dark red and very tasty. The berries I get now are poor imitations. The are large, light red and card boardy. So are the major grower just selecting out the flavor for looks, shelf life and transportability (aka red delicious apples)?

If all the stuff at grocery stores are poor (very rarely do I hit a decent batch) where do you score your berries and what varieties do you go for?

Still searching for a great strawberry...

Soup

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Where are you located? Find a farmer's market. Supermarket berries will never come close to the taste of your youth (though I did buy some Florida berries this week that were the best industrial berry I've ever had), but in season you should be able to find local berries. But not at the Acme or Krogers. And don't try to push the season. In the mid-Atlantic, decent local berries don't appear until the second or third week of May.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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My husband refuses to eat berries he didn't pick himself, at least in this country. When we were in Europe a couple of summers ago, and saw some small, very red strawberries, he went gaga over them and demolished a whole basket in short order. He let me have one, and I understood why: FLAVOR!

When we got home, we went to one of the local pick-your-own farms, and stocked the freezer. They're miles better than any supermarket berry I've ever had.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I'd suggest that buying out-of-season berries bred for their ability to travel by truck, rathert than for their taste, is a bad idea. If you must persist -- and we all cave every now and again -- simply go to the expedient of sniffing at the berries before you buy. If they don't smell delicious (usually the strawberry perfume is better than than the taste with these guys) even through the plastic, don't buy.

On a related (kind of) subject, the other day I bought some Golden, not Red, Delicious apples at the farmer's market and they were, well, delicious. Very different from the Grocery store stuff. What a difference choosing the right source makes.

Finally, on another related (kind of) topic, isn't amazing how good Jersey produce can be, despite all the crap they get? I had a fried who made a project of teaching me that New Jersey was indeed the Garden State, and not just the land of refineries and The Sopranos.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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If you must have strawberries and the only choice is supermarket ones, try roasting them - it's amazing how much better they taste.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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We buy lots of baskets of Kula Maui strawberries, lately they have been huge and luscious.

How do you roast strawberries?


"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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We buy lots of baskets of Kula Maui strawberries, lately they have been huge and luscious.

How do you roast strawberries?

Here's one recipe:Roasted strawberries


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Finally, on another related (kind of) topic, isn't amazing how good Jersey produce can be, despite all the crap they get?  I had a fried who made a project of teaching me that New Jersey was indeed the Garden State, and not just the land of refineries and The Sopranos.

'Tis amazing, tho I knew it for a decade & more before I moved out here, thanks to the NYC Union Sq Greenmarket.

What's equally amazing is how hard it is to find Jersey produce in Jersey. You have to be willing to drive to it, for the most part, because the distribution system sure ain't designed to bring it to your town.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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My granddad was a strawberry farmer in Louisiana. He grew the most luscious and beautiful, not to mention delicious, berries you could ever hope to taste. It's been a l o n g time, but I seem to recall him saying that the best berries are grown using pine needles as mulch. I'm sure it's a lot more labor intensive to grow berries that way, but Man! they sure are a lot prettier than that black plastic stuff!


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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The problem is that the supermarkets and packers want cosmetically perfect fruit, and so varieties have been developed that are indestructible. Over here its the variety called "Elsanta" Not for nothing are they known as "the bouncing strawberry", You can drop them and thy bounce, unharmed. Naturally they don't taste of much either.

My personal favorite variety is derived form the wood strawberry and is a variety called "Mara du Bois"

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I must say, I too can be seduced by the perfect fat strawberries in the grocery stores. I know they won't live up to my dreams, but somehow I just can't help but hope. As expected, they're invariably cottony, with just the vaguest hint of strawberry to let you know what you're eating. Although, I honestly doubt I would be able to identify it if I ate one blindfolded.

During strawberry season here in the North Country, we eat enough to keep our fingers stained for weeks on end, then quit. Although last year, the neighbors probably thought we were more nuts than usual--all three of us scurrying around under the front bushes on our knees, stuffing ourselves with the most adorable sweet-tart little wild strawberries!


Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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I live in the middle of California strawberry country: my kids are in 4-h and girl scouts with large growers' kids. We are a small, organic producer of vegetables, and a few years back, a couple of acres of strawberries.

Yes, the big growers produce their own varieties and strains that are large (easier to pick = lower labor costs = more money for the grower), very red so they are indeed seductive, but tasteless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yuck yuck yuck. Buy local, wait until they're in season in your area. In the meantime, buy strawberry preserves and have them on some excellent toast.

In our household we believe strawberries should again be a luxury seasonal treat like asparagus, not an obligation like bananas and apples. (these fruits have their problems in big conventional agriculture, but they both do ship better than berries)

Also: when we grew berries, we grew Seascapes, which are perfumey, delicious and red. But the most important thing for our farmers market and CSA customers was that we picked them *ripe*. the growers who are picking and then sending them on a 3-4 day trip in a semi across country couldn't do that in any case. White shoulders are the norm. There are ways (I believe) that the end point produce brokers can gas the berries up a bit more when they arrive to make them redder...

Ok, I'm stepping of my soapbox now, I promise. :biggrin:

The way strawberries should look when your local farmers market/farm stand/csa/upick starts up:

strawberries.jpg

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The way strawberries should look when your local farmers market/farm stand/csa/upick starts up:

strawberries.jpg

Oh...those just look wonderful! I can almost taste them now!


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Oh god. It's been so long since I had a decent (non-styrofoam non-supermarket) strawberry, I can't even remember when that was. And yet, I am another who regularly breaks down and buys those damfool plastic berries, just because I crave berries so badly. However, Anna N, I think you may have just saved me.

If you must have strawberries and the only choice is supermarket ones, try roasting them - it's amazing how much better they taste.

What a cool idea! It never even dawned on me to try roasting them. I shall have to conduct experiments very soon now.

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I have questioned growers and seed company "guys" why they can't breed strains with all desired properties AND flavor? They seem to be able to control so many elements in developing new varieties, I don't understand why flavor must be sacrificed. The only halfway responsive answer I have ever received is "we're doing better than we used to" or "we're working on it".

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I have questioned growers and seed company "guys" why they can't breed strains with all desired properties AND flavor?  They seem to be able to control so many elements in developing new varieties, I don't understand why flavor must be sacrificed.  The only halfway responsive answer I have ever received is "we're doing better than we used to" or "we're working on it".

Call me jaded, but the money must not be there. Same with tomatoes. If they can sell all that they harvest now for a good enough price, why bother improving it and changing the way the business is done? The big growers know that the "gourmet" market is a small percentage, and even though gourmet shoppers are willing to pay higher prices for better product, it's not worth their investment. And most small growers are incapable of meeting local demand.

In other words, the big growers like it the way it is. It's proven and far less risky. The small farmers can sell all they grow, but can't possibly meet demand if they have a quality product. If you can meet all of the demand, your prices go down. If someone is left wanting, they will pay the price for it. Supply vs demand.


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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Having had the same disapointing experience with supermarket strawberries vs. childhood strawberries, I once read that there is a particular type of extremely tasty strawberries that died out because they weren't as "commercially successful" as the giant, fancy looking, but tasteless berries...

Supposedly, the only traces left of these berries in the US today, are as seeds in some government facility. I know that sounds very Indiana Jones-y, and obviously, I hope it's wrong. The only specific thing I know about this brand of strawberries is that they were specifically imported and grown in Canada, to be served to Queen Victoria during her visist.

Sounds like the Holy Grail of strawberries to me.

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One of my most magical childhood experiences involved going across the street from my grandparents house in Waterville ME to an overgrown, unremarkable field. Slowly and carefully, I'd hunt through the chest-high grass hunting for the small bursts of field strawberries. I was supposed to be collecting them for later, but somehow they never made it back to the house....

I think of those berries every time I put one of these frauds in my mouth. FFR is right:

Call me jaded, but the money must not be there. Same with tomatoes. If they can sell all that they harvest now for a good enough price, why bother improving it and changing the way the business is done?

The tomato comparison is particularly apt. My ex-wife's brother is in CA agribusiness, and in the late 1980s he spent an hour explaining why we'd never eat a flavorful tomato bought at a grocery store. Of course, he was right -- and then wrong: the industry has reacted to the general disgust about baseball tomatoes to produce much better (though, surely, not ideal) fruit than existed twenty years ago. Perhaps the strawberry farmers will follow suit....


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Having grown up consuming over-sized styrofoam strawberries in the U.S., I was appalled - APPALLED - to taste a true wild wood strawberry.

It was the last days of a wonderfully temperate summer and happened through the heavily wooded region of Europe near Luxembourg. At Mosconi Restaurant, I had this bowlful of the most splendid strawberries I had ever tasted. So foreign were the tiny scarlet red beauties to my Americanized eyes that I mistook them for dehydrated strawberries. They were intensely sweet and and had the texture of meaty olives. Meaty. Not loamy, not styrofoamy, not vapid, not tasteless - sweet, meaty, and woodsy-sweet...

1. I have NEVER in my farmer's market days seen such jewels. That being said, I am from the Midwest and have only spent limited time shopping in farmer's markets around the U.S.

2. Anyone have any clue what these strawberries are? Can I grow them? Where can I get the seeds/starters?

Thanks!

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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Anyone have any clue what these strawberries are?  Can I grow them?  Where can I get the seeds/starters?

yes, many seed folks sell the plants, including Johnny's Seeds in Maine:

alpine strawberries

for growers to sell them to restaurants or at market they have to harvest them and get them the end consumer (the one who will actually eat the small berry) within a few hours. At our farmers market I think there are a couple of growers who do these berries but the chefs snap them up. Or their regulars have to get to market VERY early, and then eat them that day. My husband (the farmer by trade who loves to hike and find mushrooms and berries by hobby) found some of these in the backwoods and brought them home: 3 hours later only about 25% were edible, but man did they smell good!

a photo of those berries compared to some from our farm:

strawberry.jpg

-cg

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YES!! Thanks cg - alpine strawberries does sound right!! They were longer than fat and maybe half the size of a regular (American grocery store) strawberry but slightly larger than the round beauties pictured on your plate...

Where do you live to have such gorgeous fruit lying around your woods!?!?

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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YES!!  Thanks cg - alpine strawberries does sound right!!  They were longer than fat and maybe half the size of a regular (American grocery store) strawberry but slightly larger than the round beauties pictured on your plate...

Where do you live to have such gorgeous fruit lying around your woods!?!?

u.e.

there are many varieties of the alpines, the ones Mr. Chardgirl found in the woods were in Big Sur, CA, USA.

an article Mr. CG wrote at this time two years ago that applies just as much today, and I believe to this topic:

strawberry/methyl article

cg

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there are many varieties of the alpines, the ones Mr. Chardgirl found in the woods were in Big Sur, CA, USA.

an article Mr. CG wrote at this time two years ago that applies just as much today, and I believe to this topic:

strawberry/methyl article

cg

Thanks Mr. & Ms. Chardgirl.

Those of us in the tree-less flat prairie plains are full of *fistshakes* of envy for your Big Sur mountain jewels!! I lived in that region for a while and never made it up to the wooded mountains... *sounds of self butt-kicking.*

Any idea if alpines would grow out here among bluestems, wheat and corn?

u.e.

[edited: for spelling.]


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I've no idea because I'm three generations away from Minnesota and Illinois. Yes, hopelessly a Californian, but I can't help it. I just enjoy our natural beauty.

I would ask farmers at your local market (when they open) or your local extension agent or any enthusiastic gardeners... Or ask at Johnny's seeds, they're full of that kind of information...

cg

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