The Perfect Time for Pickin’ Strawberries
Strawberry season typically runs from mid-April through May in North Carolina
Fortunately for those of us in North Carolina, we live in one of the top strawberry producing states in the country, coming in at No. 4 with over 1,000 acres in 2020. It should come as no surprise that there’s an abundance of local farm stands and pick-your-own strawberry farms across the state. Good thing too, because nothing quite compares to freshly picked strawberries.
Whether your family heads to the farm on Mother’s Day or flocks to the farmers market for your baskets of berries, it’s an ideal way to spend a spring day, enjoy the outdoors and support a local farm. So take your pick and then get pickin’ before these local delicacies are gone for the year!
Before heading out to the field, take a moment to check out some expert pointers for picking the perfect strawberries from NC State Extension strawberry specialist, Mark Hoffmann.
While you’re at it, you can discover more about NC State’s efforts to breed better strawberries for North Carolina and extend our growing season.
5 Pick-Your-Own Pointers
- Contact the farm before you visit to confirm picking hours, as conditions can change daily based on weather and berry availability. Usually a farm’s social media channels, particularly Facebook, have the most up-to-date info during picking season.
- Try to pick in the morning when it’s cooler outside, which will help keep your berries fresh for longer.
- Don’t pick green or pink strawberries, which are not yet ripe.
- Do pick the plant clean – that is, pick all of the berries off a plant – if you can. The farmer will thank you!
- Keep your strawberries as cool as possible, and wash the berries before you eat them.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
- 8 ounces of spinach (around one bunch), rinsed and dried
- 3 cups strawberries, washed and dried
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- Spinach can be substituted with mild leafy greens, like lettuce.
- Other fruit could be added to the salad, such as berries or dried fruit.
- Coarsely chop or tear the spinach. Cut the strawberries into slices.
- In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, white sugar, paprika, sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
- Toss the salad mixture with the dressing. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Thanks to the N.C. Cooperative Extension Local Food Program for the recipe! Help yourself to seconds with recipes from the N.C. Strawberry Association, or visit NC State Extension’s Strawberry Growers Information Portal for a look at the latest research and production practices.
While the COVID pandemic has disrupted many aspects of everyday life, NC State Extension has helped guide farms to respond with ample precautionary measures. From installing extra hand washing stations, providing hand sanitizer and adopting personal protective equipment (PPE), to implementing social distancing policies, group size limits and cashless transaction options, farms are going above and beyond to protect visitors and employees.
Find a wealth of COVID-19 food safety resources, all reviewed by a panel of experts, to help with food safety practices at home.