We’ve compiled some helpful tips for your visit to the farm as well as some facts about strawberries.
- Strawberry season is from mid March to June 1st.
- On the average, there are 200 tiny seeds in every strawberry.
- Eight (8) medium sized strawberries contain 160% of the U.S. RDA for Vitamin C.
- Strawberries are fat-free, low in calories and are a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber.
- Flavor is influenced by growing conditions (e.g. weather), stages of ripeness, when harvested and variety. Size does not determine flavor.
- Select plump, firm, fully red berries. Unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
- You can easily freeze berries that you can not use right away – just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a ziplock bag, removing as much air as possible.
Before you leave to come to Ottawa Farms
- Always call before you go to the farm – strawberries are affected by weather (both rain and cooler temperature) more than most crops. And when they are in season, a large turnout can pick a field clean before noon, so CALL first!
- Leave early. On weekends, then fields may be picked clean by NOON!
- Remember that heaping strawberries more than 5 inches deep will bruise the lower berries.
- Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you’d be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! Bring sunscreen for the sun. Bugs usually aren’t a problem, but some deet might be good to bring along if it has been rainy.
Tips on How to Pick Strawberries
- Grasp the stem just above the berry between the forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion.
- With the stem broken about one-half inch from the berry, allow it to roll into the palm of your hand.
- Repeat these operations using both hands until each holds 3 or 4 berries.
- Carefully place – don’t throw – the fruit into your containers. Repeat the picking process with both hands.
- Don’t overfill your containers or try to pack the berries down.
- Be careful that your feet and knees do not damage plants or fruit in or along the edge of the row.
- Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries ready for harvest.
- To help the farmers, also remove from the plants berries showing rot, sunburn, insect injury or other defects and place them between the rows behind you. If they are left in the plants, the rot will quickly spread to other berries.
When you get home
- Don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.
- Put a couple of days supply into the fridge, wash and cut the caps (green tops) off the others and freeze them up! (Unless you’re going to make jam right away)
Frequently Asked Questions
Do small strawberries taste better than large ones?
Flavor is influenced by growing conditions (i.e., weather), stage of ripeness when harvested, and the variety. Size is not a factor in determining flavor.
Is it better to leave the smaller red berries so they will grow bigger?
All red berries are ripe and should be picked. Strawberries grow first in size, and then ripen. If it is red, it is done growing and will spoil if left behind.
You sell by the quart. I brought my own containers. Can I pick in them?
You can borrow some of our boxes to pick in. We then can count the number of quarts when you transfer them to your containers.
What’s the best way to store strawberries?
For strawberries to stay fresh, do not wash them right away. Store them in a large container with a dry paper towel at the bottom. Separate the berries by layering them with paper towels to maximize freshness. Just before using, wash strawberries with the caps attached under a gentle spray of cool water. For best flavor, allow strawberries to reach room temperature before serving.
Are strawberries planted each year?
Strawberries are a perennial (will live for more than one year). We do plant some strawberries each year. They do not bear fruit the first year but will the next, and will usually produce for 3 to 5 years.
Is it easy to grow strawberries?
Strawberries are one of the most labor intensive crops to grow! Since the plants are perennials, you do not have to plant them all every year. We till under about 1/3 of our planting each year and replant. Growing strawberries includes: planting, picking blossoms (year 1), hand hoeing, hand weeding, fertilizing, cultivating, monitoring/treating for insects and diseases, spreading straw, setting runners, and harvesting.
Once a field has been picked, is it picked again?
Yes, strawberries continue to grow and ripen throughout the harvest season. We usually pick our fields 4 – 5 times each season. Ripening is somewhat weather dependent and a field that is “picked clean” today may be ready to be picked again in a couple of days if the weather is warm.
Is it O.K. to pick strawberries after it has rained?
Yes, picking when the plants are wet does not hurt them. In fact, picking is generally better on overcast days. It is cooler for picking and the berries are not stressed from the heat of the sun.
- Wash and drain berries well on paper towels
- Remove stems
- Place in freezer on cookie sheet – one layer at a time
- After frozen, place berries in freezer bags