Last week fresh strawberries started appearing in CSA shares around the Twin Cities, and even though it was raining, people seemed cheerier for it. There is something about eating a fresh strawberry that renders me blissful, and I know I’m not alone feeling this way. Everything I’ve heard indicates the strawberry crop in Minnesota is fantastic this year, and I intend to take advantage of it.
The good news is that even folks who don’t have a CSA subscription can enjoy the seasonal freshness of strawberries by heading out to a u-pick farm. Kedem Nursery in Hastings offers organic u-pick strawberries, and now is their peak time for picking.
Here are some tips from the MN Department of Agriculture on picking your own strawberries:
- Select only plump, firm, fully ripe berries. Smaller berries usually have the most flavor.
- Find out if you need to bring your own containers for picking, and ask if children are welcome.
- Most farms sell berries by the pound.
- Don’t heap the containers too full – you can easily bruise the berries on the bottom.
- Remember berries will only last a couple of days in the refrigerator. For fresh-tasting local berries year-round, plan to freeze extra berries or make jam or jelly within a day or two of purchase.
- Consumers will find 90 strawberry patches and pick-your-own farms listed in the 2010 Minnesota Grown Directory. Searching online at minnesotagrown.com makes it easy to locate a farm, get directions, and contact information to call ahead.
My favorite strawberry dish is so simple: Pick up a pint of Cedar Summit heavy whipping cream, pour it into a chilled stainless steel bowl, drizzle some local honey into it and whisk until peaks form. Slice some fresh strawberries into a bowl. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with additional berries and a bit of fresh mint.