2020 Update: I know that things are strange this year. We were able to go strawberry picking with all the rules last night! Kept a row of strawberries between everyone and washed our hands before and after picking.
My family LOVES picking strawberries! But we’ve made plenty of mistakes and I thought it may benefit others to hear about our mistakes! We’ve picked WAY too many and wasted them all. We didn’t show our children exactly what they were looking for and had so many green berries that weren’t edible. We’ve gone too early and too late…so learn from my mistakes and pick the best berries you’ve ever had!
I took my youngest, Isabella, on a preschool field trip a few years ago to the local strawberry fields and we had a blast!
(p.s. She’s was on my lap as I type this and saying “I ate them all!!” and she did…she ate plenty before we got to the end of the row!)
- Timing is everything. Too early and all you get is green, not too sweet berries. Too late and you find leftovers. Depending on where you live will determine when your best time is. In my part of NC the season starts late April through the first of June. A very wet month, very hot or very dry means strawberries that are less than their best.
- Pick the best berries. Unlike some other fruit, strawberries do not continue to ripen after being picked so you want to pick the ripe berries. That means a ripe berry is fully red. Those green tips won’t go away after you get them home.
- Use the right container: It might be fun to fill a huge bucket of strawberries but the more you pile- the more you damage. Use shallow buckets and pile them no more than 3-4 inches tall. Better to use multiple baskets than to have one really full basket of bruised berries.
- Pick them Properly. Grasp the stem just above the berry between the thumb and forefinger. Pull and twist slightly to remove the berry. Do NOT remove the stem from inside the berry or tear the leaves off. Place them gently in the container. Don’t throw them!
Preparing them at home
- Do NOT wash them. Washing them speeds up the process of going bad. Just let them stay “dirty” until right before you are ready to use them.
- Do NOT remove the leaves/stems. This also just speeds the spoiling. As does keeping them heaped up. Keep it as it was until you are ready to wash and eat them.
There are so MANY ways to preserve strawberries for later.
- Freezing: Wash, cut off tops, slice if desired. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Place in a freezer bag to use for smoothies, etc.
- Canning: Check out tips here.
- Jam Recipe
- Strawberry Popsicles
Strawberries will only last 1-2 days in the fridge and even less on the counter! Your best bet is to only pick enough you will use in 2 days or prepare to freeze, can, etc any extras right away.
One recipe my family ALWAYS loves is to wash and slice the strawberries and generously sprinkle sugar over them (maybe 2 tbsp of sugar per pound of strawberries) and let them sit in the fridge overnight. Then use on pancakes or waffles or even just eat by the spoonful!
I FINALLY updated this post with some new pictures!