Picking your own fruits and vegetables has become a favorite tradition over the years. This time I went for strawberry picking. Strawberries were originally called “strewberries” because the fruit was ‘strewn’ amongst the leaves of the plant. Strawberry picking starts in February in Florida, Texas, southern California; then in March along the Gulf coast, April in the Deep South and west coast, May through much of the country, and June in northern areas. California is king of strawberry productions because California produces 75 percent of the nation’s strawberry crops; one billion pounds of strawberries each year. If you love strawberries then this is the best time to eat them frequently during peak season.
Tips before you go for picking your own strawberries:
1. Weather: Whenever you want to visit a farm, it’s always advisable to check the weather conditions. Rains are not an appropriate time to visit. I visited the farm on a cloudy day, but the farm was a little muddy due to previous day’s rain.
2. Type of farm: Many locations usually have special events, festivals, petting zoos, tours and lectures, and other special attractions. So, if you want to spend a full day with kids then probably such farms are suitable for you. Such farms usually have an entry fee that includes a long day full of activities for family fun however if you only want to go for picking strawberries then you can search for the farms which offer free entry and you only have to pay for the strawberries.
3. Best day to visit: Strawberry season only lasts three to four weeks, therefore it’s crucial that you should plan in advance for picking up your own strawberries. Always call the farm owners before you go – strawberries are affected by weather (both rain and cooler temperature) compared to most crops. You should either visit the farm on weekdays as there will be less crowd or early mornings if visiting on weekends.
4. Clothes and shoes: Expect to encounter sun, bugs and possibly mud at a picking farm. Most farms advise leaving the flip-flops at home and wearing older tennis shoes or even boots. Due to the strawberry bushes being low, there is no shade or cover in the fields, so don’t forget hats and sunscreen for the sun. Bugs usually aren’t a problem, but some DEET might be good to bring along if it has been rainy.
5. Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you’d be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! Usually, you can find other vendors too near the farm offering a variety of snacks.
6. Bring your own baskets: Most strawberry fields do not give you the cartons to keep. Make sure your basket is not very deep. The berries will mash if you stack them too deep. It’s better to have a lot of shallow baskets than a few big ones.
7. Follow the instructions: When you enter the farm, you will get the instructions on what to pick and how to pick. The redder the better or once the berry is fully colored, pick the fruit with about one-quarter of the stem attached. Don’t pick berries with green tips, as they are unripe.
8. Consumption: Pick as many strawberries as you can consume them in next few days. Berries to be used immediately may be picked any time, but if you plan to hold the fruit for a few days, try to pick in the early morning or on cool, cloudy days. Berries picked during the heat of the day become soft, are easily bruised and will not keep well. Strawberries freeze beautifully and can be used later for desserts, in smoothies, chilled strawberry soup, or anything that is cooked or pureed. You can also make the berries into jam; frozen strawberry jam recipes are easy to find and simple to make.
9. Bring cash: Whenever you visit any farm always remember to bring in cash with you as many farms accept cash only.
I am an ordinary person who has dreamt of extraordinary experiences and Strawberry picking was one of those experiences.