Strawberries are in season here in Indiana! We are for sure a strawberry loving family!! There is nothing like fresh strawberries from the field. We have a small patch that we enjoy fresh strawberries from. I love to mash them, add a teaspoon of sugar and pour a little heavy whipping cream over them.
Each year I make strawberry freezer jam and like a large amount to do the jam all at once. Last week we went to a strawberry farm about an hour away and picked. My farmer's grandma (she was planning to make jam also),Laner, and myself enjoyed beautiful weather while we picked berries for our freezer jam.
Strawberry picking is a great summer activity to enjoy with your kids, especially when the weather is nice! It's a great way to create fun summer memories!
Strawberry season usually starts mid-June and lasts around 3 weeks depending on the weather and how many people come to pick. U-pick farms around here began their season last week. We had just used the last of our freezer jam I put up last year, so I was anxious to get some more done.
Some tips for your strawberry picking day:
-Call the berry farm before you make your trip to find out hours. Some farms like to cut off entry to the strawberry fields an hour or two before closing and you want to make sure you have enough time.
-Ask their prices. Finding out their prices is nice to know. The patch we went to had a special that if you picked 6 buckets, you only paid for 5.
-Ask if the fields are plentiful. Sometimes with so many pickers, it may take longer for you to pick the quantity you'd like
-Ask if they supply containers. You'd hate to get there and they don't supply containers.
Things to bring...
-Wear sunscreen. Strawberry fields are wide open space, you will be in full sun. You might also wear a hat.
-Don't wear nice clothes and shoes. Usually their is straw between the rows, but depending on how much rain there has been the ground may be moist. If you crawl among the berry plants as your picking, you might get berry juice on your pants. With kids, most likely they will get juice on their clothes, especially if they sample some berries. Your hands will also likely get stained after picking.
-Bring water. In June-July it can get rather hot and with the sun beating down on you, you need to stay hydrated, especially if picking for a while.
-Bring your lunch. You may decide to make a day of it or a fun trip with the kids. Bring a sack lunch and enjoy at the strawberry farm.
-Pick red berries. Pick the berries that are completely red. Strawberries ripen on the plant and won't ripen after picked. Leave the berries with some white spots for someone else to pick later.
-Look underneath. Be sure to look underneath the strawberry leaves. This is where you will find most of the strawberries.
-Be a gentle picker. Leaving the caps on helps them last longer. You also don't want to squish or bruise any berries.
When you get home...
-Wait to wash your strawberries. Wash them when you are ready to eat them. This will help them last longer as washing them makes them prone to spoiling.
-Enjoy. Make up your favorite recipes with your strawberries. Strawberry pie, jam, strawberry salads, eat them fresh, the list goes on.
-Best to use strawberries within 3-4 days from picking.
-Freeze them. Wash and hull them (take the green part off). Let them dry and put in plastic bags in the freezer. Strawberries will last for several months in the freezer.
-Freeze for later. For example, I had strawberry puree in my freezer that I was waiting until I had more to do jam all at once. When you're ready to do jam, thaw what you already have prepared and mix with new berries.
To find a local strawberry farm near you check out Local Harvest. You can choose U-pick in the drop down menu and enter strawberries and your location and find a farm close to you. Take your kids and enjoy the time picking strawberries or if time is not available, usually strawberry farms offer them pre-picked as well at a slightly higher cost.
Be sure to enjoy a few while you're there :)