|Ah, strawberries! Only 55 calories per cup, this perfect fruit is a superb source of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber. Picking your own berries provides a fun activity for the entire family, and the berries are fresher and healthier than what you find in your local grocery store. Here are some guidelines for getting the most out of your strawberry picking experience:
|Before you go
Call your orchard. Crops can be affected by weather (both rain and cooler temperature). When strawberries are in season, a large turnout can pick a field clean before noon. Ask your orchard if containers are provided and if there is a charge for them.
Leave early – it will be cooler and you will have a better chance of getting the best berries! Wear sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes. Bug spray is recommended and pack a lunch with plenty of water.
- Pick only the berries that are fully red. Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries.
- Select plump, firm, fully red berries. Small berries are often most flavorful.
- Watch your knees – be careful not to crush plants or fruit in or along the edge of the row.
- Help your local farmer by removing berries showing rot, sunburn, insect injury or other defects. Place them between the rows behind you – left in the plants, the rot will quickly spread to other berries.
- Do know your measurements: 1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups and is about the same as 1 liter and weighs 1.25 lbs. 1 quart is normally enough for 4 servings. If you do end up with too many, freeze the extra. Strawberries in the refrigerator will only last about 2 days and quickly mold at room temperature.
- Do gently rinse the berries only as you need them at home.
- Do not pick unripe strawberries. Strawberries do not ripen on their own once they leave the plant.
- Do not pile them too high: Heaping strawberries more than 5 inches deep will bruise the lower berries.
- Do not place picked berries in the sunshine longer than necessary. It is better to put them in the shade of a tree or shed than in the car trunk or on the car seat. Cool them as soon as possible after picking.
- Don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling. Pour them out into shallow pans and remove any mushed, soft or rotting berries.
||The nit-picking of picking
Grasp the stem just above the berry between the forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion.
With the stem broken about one-half inch from the berry, allow it to roll into the palm of your hand.
Carefully place – don’t throw – the fruit into your containers.
Drink lots of water if you are in the sun for most of the day.
Most importantly, have fun!