One of the special things about living in Bucks County is the opportunity to pick your own produce. Hopefully, you’ve had the pleasure of picking strawberries, straight from the vine after a long day in the sun. I remember being able to bike from my house all the way to Brumbaugh’s Farm in Telford, if I dared. Why risk balancing containers filled with delicious strawberries all the way down County Line?
If you’re like me and you have some fond memories of picking strawberries in the early summer heat, then you’ll be excited to know that strawberry season is upon us! This year should be a good one, weather permitting.
On the East Coast, strawberries should be ready for pick-your-own by mid-May or early June. Because of the unexpected cold weather earlier this spring, many farms have been carefully tending to their crops, as an attempt to bring the berries back to life.
This year, expect to see some farms with pick-your-own by the end of May and expect others to have their strawberries ready early to mid-June. When you do head out into the fields, be sure to call farms first before making the trip, or check their Facebook pages for updates. Here are some other berry picking tips:
- Always call before showing up at the farm. Depending on the weather, berries may not be ripe or may be picked out. Ask them if you need to bring your own containers. It isn’t a bad idea to check out a farm’s website, which usually has good information, or pick up the phone and give them a good ol’ fashion call.
- Only pick firm, plump and fully red berries. Unripe strawberries won’t ripen after being picked. Grasp the stem just above the berry, between the forefinger and thumbnail. Then pull, with a slight twisting motion. Be gentle putting them in the container.
- Help out the farmers by removing any rotten, bug-eaten or other “bad” berries. Rot will spread quickly to the “good” berries.
- As far as strawberries are concerned, size DOESN’T matter. As long as they are completely red, they’re good to pick. Some even say that the smaller berries taste better.
- The best time to pick strawberries is early on a cool, cloudy day. They’ll last longer than in the heat. Plus, you won’t end up looking like a berry from sunburn!
- Once picked, keep them out of the sun and heat as much as possible. Cool them down as soon as you can. And never wash them until you’re ready to use them—moisture will hasten rotting. Here are some other tips on cleaning strawberries properly.
- Try not to pile the berries more than 5 inches deep in your container. The ones on the bottom will start to bruise from the weight.
- Don’t pick more than you’re going to use. Strawberries will quickly mold at room temperature and will only last a couple of days in the fridge. If you’re not going to use them right away, wash them, cut off the hulls and freeze them in a zipper bag (be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible).