Strawberry picking is a great spring and early summer activity for the whole family. Get the best tips, tricks, and recipes for making the most of your pick your own strawberries experience!
While we normally grow most of our own food, strawberries are something that we just haven't started growing in bulk. With maybe 20 plants a year, our strawberries are more for fun and not as much for bulk harvesting!
So this year we decided to go strawberry picking at a local pick your own strawberries farm! On the heels of our trip I wanted to share a few tips and tricks for making the most of your own strawberry picking experience!
I'm also including several of our favorite strawberry recipes for dealing with all the strawberries once you get home.
It may seem like the easiest thing in the world to take a basket or bucket to the field and pick strawberries. However, there are a few things that will help make your time in the strawberry patch all the better!
- Teach children how to safely pick before you start. Fresh strawberries cling surprisingly hard to their vines. Make sure children know how to identify ripe strawberries AND now know to grab and pull only one berry at a time, instead of grabbing multiple berries and pulling. Tilting at a 90 degree angle on the vine will allow the berries to just pop off.
- Only pick the fully red strawberries! While this may seem obvious, sometimes the fully red strawberries are somewhat hard to find and you may start settling for strawberries that are still somewhat white at the tops.
- Don't pick at the points closest to the starting point. The berries are not as ripe or large as the ones farthest away from the start. Take a little extra time and you will be rewarded with HUGE, ripe, glistening strawberries!
- The strawberries weight more than you think, so be aware! If you are just there for the experience and not to buy bulk strawberries, then be careful about how many you are picking. We idly picked berries for about 15-20 minutes and were shocked to leave with 10 pounds!
- Bring a wagon if you are picking in bulk! Unless you are just going to pick a few strawberries, bringing a wagon to carry all the strawberries is going to save you a lot of effort, especially if you are picking with kids who won't want to carry their own buckets for long.
- Bring small buckets for little children. Allowing each child to fill a small bucket once or twice will help keep your bill under control and will also give you a better chance of them carrying their own strawberries.
- Check for school holidays before you go. If you have the option of going strawberry picking during the week while many children are in school, you will have a less congested field in which to pick.
- Go early in the morning. If you don't have the option of hitting the strawberry patch during the week, then go as early in the morning as you can. Most people like to go around 10am so if you get there around 8am or 9am then you will still have a more low-key experience!
- Pack drinks and snacks. While you will have fresh strawberries once the picking is done, be sure that you have water, tea, of whatever drinks you prefer on hand to refresh yourself during the picking! Also having some homemade crackers and cheese makes a great pairing for the strawberries on the way home!
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How to Preserve Strawberries
If you do end up with more strawberries than you planned for, there are several delicious and easy ways to preserve strawberries so they don't go bad sitting in your fridge.
This is definitely our favorite way to preserve strawberries for later. Cooking and canning this strawberry jam is a great way to spend an afternoon and lasts for years on the shelf.
We like to stir our strawberry jam into our morning oatmeal or spread a thick later over homemade biscuits!
If you are growing vegetables this summer, strawberry zucchini fruit leather is a fabulous way to sneak some vegetables into your kids while giving them a delicious treat!
You can also make plain strawberry fruit leather if you prefer.
One of the easiest ways to deal with bulk strawberries is to wash, de-stem, and freeze them whole.
To do this just wash the strawberries and remove them tops, then pat them dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment lined tray. Once the berries are completely frozen you can remove them from the tray and store in gallon bags in the freezer.
I tend to use this method as a last resort because I am very jealous of my freezer space since we freeze so many other things!
Much like the freezing method, this is a crazy easy way to process a large quantity of fresh strawberries.
Wash, de-stem, and slice your strawberries. Lay them flat on your freeze dryer trays and process on the automatic setting.
Once they are completely dried, store in an airtight glass jar or a mylar bag.