With the strawberry season now in full swing, we thought we'd share some of our frequently asked questions about picking berries.
When is the best time to pick?
Early in the morning when the berries are still cool and the sun hasn't had time to soften them or early evening when the sun is setting. Our hours reflect the best picking times: 7 a.m. - noon and 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. daily!
How long is the season?
It varies year-to-year, but usually 2-3 weeks around June. A lot of depends on how much heat and rain we get. We keep our website and Facebook page as up to date as possible on current patch conditions.
Why aren't you open in the middle of the day?
It's usually too hot and people don't want to pick in the heat. Also, the heat softens the berries, so they don't hold up in the containers as well as when they are cooler in the early and late day.
How can I tell which berries are ripe?
A fully ripe berry is all red, no green flesh and no white tip. Ripe berries are firm, not soft or mushy, and have a bright, shiny red color.
How do I pick berries?
The best way to hunt for the nicest berries are to get down and dirty. Use both hands, one to hold the branches and the other to pick the berries. Look under the leaves for the berries - some of the best ones are hiding right under your nose. When picking, keep the stems and hulls on the fruit. It helps keep the berries fresh longer.
What are the best picking practices for good berries?
Handle the fruits gently. Place them gently into the buckets - don't throw or toss them in. Try not to pile the berries too high in the basket or bucket as the bottom berries might be crushed. Take as many buckets as you'd like so you don't have to fill them too full. Don't squeeze the berries and handle them too much - this can cause bruising.
What should I look for when buying pre-picked berries?
Look for fragrant, red, and shiny berries that have a uniform color throughout. The berries should be firm and plump. If any leaves, stem, or hull are attached, these should be fresh and green (not browning or wilted). Stains on the container indicate overripe fruit. And it's always a good idea to buy berries by weight!
What are the best techniques for berry care?
Protect berries from the sun and heat as best you can. When home, sort through your berries and remove any overripe or molding berries. Refrigerate at 32°–40°F in loosely covered containers. Don't wash any berries until you are ready to eat or use them. Strawberries generally keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
How should I freeze berries?
Wash the strawberries and remove any stems or leaves. Pat them dry with paper towels. If freezing individually (for use in smoothies, for example), you can either leave them whole or quarter them. Freeze them individually on cookie sheets and transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag when frozen.
For a sweet treat to top cakes or swirl into yogurt or ice cream: Puree the berries in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar per quart of berries; gently stir until sugar dissolves. Spoon into freezer-safe containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Freeze up to 12 months.
What are your tips for canning?
We follow the Bell Canning Company's advice. Follow the link below for canning information: Ball Canning Company
Any questions? Drop them in the comments. Happy pickin' y'all!
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