After days of disheveled New England weather — intense heat one day, torrential rain the next, today there’s nothing but bright sunshine. So in mid-June that means one thing — it’s strawberry picking time!
We are fortunate to live just a half hour away from Jones Family Farms in Shelton, Connecticut, where you can pick your own strawberries. One of the last few running farms in the area, they have something going on every season. Right now, it’s strawberry season through the end of June. In July, it’s blueberry season (yay), followed by pumpkins in the fall, and then Christmas trees in the winter. A great farm run by friendly people.
My husband Jerry and I dug out a pair of berry baskets from the pantry we’ve used for years at Jones. The baskets are so old they say you’ll get a 30 cent credit if you reuse them. It’s now up to a $1 credit for each basket. We were recyclers before recycling was popular. I prefer to categorize us that way rather than just saying we’re cheap Yankees. Ahem.
So off we went. At the farm a “Berry Ferry” transported us across green fields, where we could smell the scent of strawberries before seeing them. Jerry and I took each side of one row. I lifted a bright green leaf and there they were. Red gold! Beautiful ripe strawberries. I couldn’t resist, I had to taste one.
How do you describe the flavor of a fresh-picked strawberry? It tasted like sweet juicy tanginess bathed in sunshine. That’s the best I can do.
Because strawberry season is in full bloom, our baskets were full in no time. The temperamental weather didn’t harm the harvest, in fact it seemed to help. The berries were fully ripened, red from top to bottom, and were firm and not mushy.
At the farm stand’s checkout the berries were weighed, and we had amassed 20 pounds between us. The cashier laughed, noting our baskets said 30 cents off. “Those are old baskets,” she said. Yes indeed.
The farm was also selling fresh produce — various lettuces, spring onions, and rhubarb. I had used up our rhubarb the other day for a Rhubarb Upside Down Crumb Cake, so I bought a couple more stalks along with crisp red lettuce that looked like it had just been picked.
For Father’s Day tomorrow, we’re going to my in-laws for a small family cookout, nothing fancy, just grilling some chicken, hamburgers, and corn on the cob. I think I’ll make a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Lemon Budino (Lemon Pudding Cakes) with Strawberries. But to be honest, I could just bring the berries as is. They are so sweet. No sugar, nothing else really required. Nature’s perfection.