A few weeks ago, we headed down to a local farm, Froberg’s, to pick strawberries for the second year in a row. It’s a great opportunity to let the little one run around, pick strawberries, and pull out the camera.
We’re also big fans of the Jalapeno & Cheese Venison Sausage [swoon] from their smokehouse and strawberry fried pies… but this is about strawberries.
There are perks to dealing with 857% humidity in August, one of those being the ability to pick a couple of pounds of fresh strawberries in late February/early March.
Unless you’re a hoarder, and then you picked 14 lbs of fresh strawberries in late February.
I am a hoarder.
2 baking sheets and large bowl full of strawberries. And we didn’t have to toss a single berry before it was baked with or eaten. This is how:
Wash your haul
I was always told never to rinse strawberries – just brush them with a damp paper towel – because they absorb too much water and it ruins the fruit and potentially the resulting dish. But you should really wash your strawberries, you just don’t want to soak them. I fill the buckets holding the strawberries with cold water, twist the bucket by the handle to gently swish the berries around, and use my hand to lightly press down/agitate the top floaters to loosen the dirt and grime. Carefully turn the berries out into a strainer and then rinse them off with cold water.
Dry your haul
Gently turn the berries out of the strainer onto a towel-lined countertop and pat them dry with a paper towel. You want them pretty much totally dry, wet/damp berries will go downhill really quickly.
Sort and store your haul
The best part of picking strawberries is that only berries that are red from end-to-end make it into the bucket, not a hard, under-ripe berry in sight! The downside is that all of those ripe, super-ripe, and almost over-ripe berries have to be managed in a way so you eliminate and minimize loss. Berries get sorted based on 3 categories before being stored in the fridge:
– Bruised or super-crazy-overripe berries go into a “must eat tomorrow” bowl. They were perfect when we picked them, but they ended up at the bottom of a 5 lb bucket of strawberries so they’re the first berries to go. They can go down as muffins or scones… or just get eaten straight from the bowl. Just as long as they’re used first!
– Picture-perfect berries go onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet (or 2) in a single layer. These will last several days, up to a week+ in the fridge (we polished off the last berries on day 11). I use a double-decker strawberry storage system: Fill the first baking sheet full of berries, move the berries around to accommodate a baking rack with legs/feet, and then set the second baking sheet on top of the rack. And it only takes up 1 shelf in the fridge!
– Berries that are scarred with a mark the size of a toddler bite-radius get tossed in the trash. If you have a berry-crazed toddler, you might find that 3 or 4 of these guys sneak into your buckets, too 🙂
Cook. Eat. Sort. Repeat.
When your “must eat tomorrow” bowl is empty, refill it with any berries that were formerly picture-perfect but now need to turn into cake. Or ice cream. Repeat until your 14 lbs of strawberries are gone and you’re left wondering if your husband will have you committed if you mentioned going to pick strawberries again.
What did we do with 14 lbs of strawberries:
– Strawberry Wine (woohoo!)
– Strawberry Muffins
– Strawberry Scones
– Roasted Strawberry Goat Cheese Ice Cream
– Roasted Strawberry Crostini with Basil and Goat Cheese
– Goat Cheese & Strawberry Panini with Arugula and Balsamic
– Macerated to top pound cake
– Sliced to top a spinach salad
– Eaten straight from the bowl for breakfast and lunch. And dinner. And dessert. And then dessert again.
I’m not sure if you can tell, but I sort of like the strawberry-goat cheese combo. We’ll be sharing some of the recipes over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!
Where is Frobergs? Have you heard of rinsing berries in vinegar? Really works to preventing mold.
In Alvin. I have heard about the part-vinegar rinse but have never tried it.
The vinegar thing really works! I do it always, especially with fresh organic strawberries (every berry really) and they last so much longer and the taste doesnt change.
Thanks for the strawberry recipes, my son is a strawberry fanatic! He will be getting fresh strawberry cake for his birthday in June! Yay!!
What a nice tradition you are starting. My town in SC grows a ton of strawberries, too. I should pick up a basket…but I may have to search our your strawberry goat cheese combos before you tell us because that sounds too delicious to wait.
What a cutie! My children’s clothes come home red after we go berry picking but we have to wait until July before our strawberries are in season. My kids love going. I do ask the cashier to weigh my children before and after but they tell me it is expected.
I seriously hope you’re going to post some kind of a how-to on the wine, or at least hook a girl up with a recipe. I’ll be picking ours in another month or so, and would love to venture into wine making! Will definitely be doing a batch (or two) of strawberry cream ale as well. These berries are absolutely gorgeous!
I’ve never been to a strawberry farm. That looks so fun and tempting. Our strawberries don’t peak until around June here. Such a long wait!
I am super excited about strawberry recipes this week. Thanks for the tips!
I am salivating over the goat cheese ice cream. Please post that one first!
I’m not sure I could be more excited! I always have some strawberries on my counter while they’re in season and I eat them whenever I pass by. I make sure that’s frequently. I made a strawberry goat cheese salad last year and LOVED the combo. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of these recipes!
Lovely photos and a great story. Those tartlets look delicious.
Can’t wait for your strawberry collection of recipes. You pics are gorgeous! I was hoping to go out to Marble Falls and pick some but it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Wah!
You crack me up. I love this post! Thank you for letting me know that everyone who told me to “pat wash” my strawberries was wrong and that I need to really wash them. It takes forever to “clean” each individual one with a wet paper towel, so I welcome this correction! 🙂
And, fried strawberry pies??? Yes, please!
Gorgeous strawberries. FYI, I think strawberry hoarding is a-okay!
I’m lovin the strawberry face on your lil’ one….clearly she was enjoying it! Strawberry season doesn’t hit until June here in PA, but I will definetly be out in the fields picking. We froze a lot of berries last year for smoothies, and I just finished up my stash this week.
We go picking every June, so much fun!
Jealous! We loved Froberg’s when we lived in Alvin. Every time we drive past it on the way to my parents, I swear next time we’re going to stop and load up on their strawberries!
Love how perfect and gorgeous those strawberries are! Really makes you realize how much better local and fresh picked are than the stuff in the grocery store!
Froberg’s is such a treasure! The original “Farmer’s Market” around here. How nice to see such lovely pictures of it. I knew that you were a Texas gal, but didn’t realize that you were a neighbor.
Jealous! It’ll still be a few more months before we get to pick our own strawberries here in Ohio. I broke down and bought some at the store the other day. I just can’t help myself. My fruit intake has been far too…orange…the last few months.
I have searched and searched for pick your own farms in Texas and I can’t seem to find any worth going to. This looks like a great place. Mind sharing the location with a fellow Houstonian? And if you have any well kept pick you own farms under your belt, I wouldn’t be mad if you shared them with me 😉 Feel free to email me if this is easiest for you!
Froberg’s is down in Alvin, totally worth the drive. They update picking status on their FB page. They close to the public in early-ish May so you’ll want to get down there soon! I don’t currently know of any others… I think there used to be a blueberry place near Conroe but I’m not sure it’s still there.
Holy moly, your berries look absolutely gorgeous! so glad you got to go, it looks so fun! and these are awesome tips, if i ever find a strawberry pick-your-own near me. when i do, it will be a momentous day!
I would like to share what I had done with a portion of the fresh strawberries my family and I picked. After washing and drying them, I removed the husk and layed them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer overnight. Next day I placed them into quart sized freezer bags, and back into the freezer they go. We use them in several different things including strawberry shakes, smoothies, garnishing on Sundays, ect. I haven’t defrosted any to see how they might do, but will be trying that soon.
I’d like to bring my son here. He loves strawberries a lot!
Strawberry wine??? Mmmmmmm… how did you do that?
I used a recipe from my local Homebrew supply shop… But… It didn’t turn out – far too dry for our tastes 🙁
What ratio of vinegar should be used rinse strawberries?
~2 Tbsp in a sink full of water.