Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Picking

Ah, finally, it's strawberry picking time. Admittedly, the season has started in mid-April, but with all the crazy weather and M getting sick and all that we are just now getting around to it. So a couple of weeks ago we went to our favorite strawberry place, Smith's Nursery. We've been going there for 3 years straight. It's a bit of a drive for us, 30 mins or so, but it's such a beautiful farm! Yes, it's more than just a big open strawberry field. There are plenty of things to do and see there, from admiring flowers in the nursery to checking up on the goats to having a picnic by the fish pond. There are also two playsets for kids and it's a very lively place in general.
The first thing that M said after he saw the field, breathed the aroma of ripe berries and saw all the bright red berries peeking from under the leaves, was "Let's stay here ALL DAY!" To which I thought "Hooray! I finally get to pick without any hurry". Right... Let's just say that after about 10 minutes M's mantra changed to "Let's go back to the car RIGHT NOW!" My fault really.

I told him not to eat unwashed berries and instead wait 'til we would get to the car, wash them and have a nice little picnic eating berries with slices of fresh bread I took with us for a snack. I think the only three words that M retained out of that lengthy explanation was "picnic, bread, snack". He figured that since we had enough strawberries for a picnic, what was the reason for staying out in the heat any longer?

We did manage to pick 2 buckets of berries though. Smith's has just about the largest strawberries of all the farms we've been to. And they generally smell great and are delicious. But the place is far, as I've mentioned.

So that's why I was so happy when, driving around picking up some free stuff posted on Craigslist, I found a smallish strawberry field only about 20 minutes from us. What's even better, we make it half-way there at least once a week since the Farmers' Market is on the way and Lake Wheeler Park is too. The place is called Porter Farm. And it just might become a contender for the title of the most favorite strawberry patch. It's just a strawberry field, no extras (they do sell some other produce and locally-made ice-cream). But the berries are delicious with a big "D". They aren't very big at all, but exceptionally sweet, even the ones that don't seem to be fully ripe yet. The berries also keep very well.

So both times we picked 2 large buckets of strawberries and I've made various deserts with them. No strawberry-rhubarb crisp though 'cause for some reason this year the grocery stores here don't sell rhubarb. And I'm yet to plant my own (yes, yes, next year).

I also tried dehydrating strawberries and they turned out yummy. Like sweet-tart strawberry chips. I plan on drying more for snacks and granola. I'm also making some strawberry jam, the one that everyone seemed to like so much last year. So we'll be doing more strawberry picking, most likely at Porter Farm (gas prices, you know). But we'll most definitely go to the Smith's Nursery at least once more, that one weekend when the strawberry field is still open and the blueberries and blackberries are ready to be picked as well. Irresistible!

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