Who Doesn’t Love Strawberries! - Random Reasonings

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Who Doesn’t Love Strawberries!

One of the best things about the first week in June is that fresh strawberries are plentiful everywhere!

When I was 12 I picked strawberries for a local farm. They brought a wagon into town every day at 5:30 a.m. and any kids who wanted to get paid for picking strawberries were to be at the town square to get on the wagon.

We’d get to the farm where we all were signed in, given a carrier full of empty quart baskets, and assigned a row to pick. We got paid 7 cents a quart. We picked till 11:30 and then were taken back to town and dropped off to get home in time for lunch.

We weren’t supposed to eat any of the strawberries but I’d sneak some when I thought no one was looking.

In the late 1990s when I was running my advertising/marketing agency, I signed on a client from Salisbury, Maryland called Brittingham Plant Farms. The business was being run by the second generation which was daughter Sylvia and her husband Wayne Robertson. Brittingham sold Strawberry plants to commercial growers and large hobby gardeners.

They cultivated plants during summer and early fall, dug them and put them into cold storage in November, and then when growers were ready to put new plants in the ground in the spring Brittingham shipped them at the perfect time.

Brittingham sold their plants  through their mail order catalog. Each fall I and my staff put together a new catalog. There was a full page devoted to each variety of strawberry starting with the early producers through the late season producers, with the everlastings at the end.

I loved working on that catalog. Putting in the gorgeous photos of strawberries, writing the copy about the degree of sweetness, firmness, pest resistance, and disease tolerance of each. I learned a lot about strawberries by having Brittingham as a client.

The biggest marketing coup I had for Sylvia and Wayne was totally by accident. One morning
Sylvia called me at the office in a panic asking “What did you do? Our phones are ringing off the hook. We’re almost sold out.”

Turns out that morning on Martha Stewart’s TV show which aired at 10 a.m. eastern time, Martha was showing how to plant and grow strawberries. Sitting there the entire time was a carton of plants with the Brittingham Plant Farms name on it. But even more, at the end of the segment Martha told her audience “I buy all my plants from Brittingham Plant Farms because theirs are the best!”

You could not buy an endorsement from Martha, but that voluntary one was a gold mine for my clients.

Eventually Sylvia and Wayne decided to retire, sold their customer list and the rights to the name to a competitor in Delaware, and then sold all their agricultural land in Maryland to create a very comfortable retirement nest egg. And I no longer had them as a client.

Of course you can now buy fresh strawberries all year long at your grocery store, but they taste nothing like fresh picked ones. There are so many varieties. Some small and dark red; others large and bright scarlet red. Each has their own flavor.

Better still are all the many ways to use strawberries. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry shortcake. Such a delicious, refreshing dessert. But I also love strawberry rhubarb pie. I’ve loved rhubarb ever since I was a little girl and my grandma made rhubarb sauce. But mixing it with strawberries in a pie is the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

A favorite summer soup is cold strawberry soup. Easy to make in a blender or food processor There is a popular summer dessert called strawberry pretzel cheesecake – an easy to make pretzel crust, a cream cheese and sour cream filling, strawberry jello, and fresh strawberries that is a staple of family get-togethers.

For a refreshing beverage, muddle some fresh strawberries with a bit of sugar and add them to your lemonade or iced tea.

I like making salads with strawberries. For the greens I use a base of spinach and field greens, add sliced fresh strawberries, slices of fresh oranges or mandarin oranges, dried cranberries softened in the microwave for a minute in a small bit of water, then some finely chopped glazed almonds, topped with finely shredded extra sharp cheese.

Top that with a homemade strawberry balsamic dressing for a healthy side dish. To make it an entree, add pieces of grilled chicken.

When strawberries are in season I love to have strawberry pancakes for Sunday brunch. I make my own syrup then top the pancakes with fresh sliced berries. Some slices of applewood smoked bacon on the side or some spicy breakfast sausages, top off the meal. You can have strawberries in some form every day they are in season.

Where I live in Florida there are no local strawberry farms. It’s something I miss if I stay down too late in the season. Up in PA, where we usually go for the summer, I get fresh strawberries from Triple B Farms and will buy them weekly starting with Earliglow, the first to ripen to Honeoye which is a firm sweet berry that grows through June, to Jewell which is a luscious large berry.

For those who want to make homemade strawberry jam or preserves, Sparkle is the classic berry to use. They ripen late, are deep red and medium size, and cook up with a rich strawberry flavor.

I hope your June includes lots of fresh Strawberries enjoyed in many ways.

“Strawberries are the candy of the fruit world.”

– Anonymous

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