We have a CSA share and were very pleased to read on the u-pick board "Strawberries - one quart per share". It was a perfect day for being out in the field and all too soon we had picked our share (and eaten our fill as well). We had so much fun, and the berries were gone before bed time so we made a plan for some serious picking this weekend when Andy's mama (Bubbie) was coming into town.
There is a local organic farm that has u-pick but they charge a dollar more per pound if you bring kids (!) so we went to a no-spray farm down the road from my mom. The farm happened to belong to the family of one of Andy's students and so we were able to chat with his dad in the field a bit. They plant different varieties of berries so that they ripen through the year. Ours were Cavendish - apparently they aren't usually sold because they are very soft and don't travel well. That was fine with use because they were pretty much just travelling to our bellies. We made short work of it and had almost 30 pounds in about a half an hour. My mom, Andy, Miryam and I picked while Andy's mom entertained the baby. The weather was perfect (we usually come out on the hottest day in June it seems) and I was impressed with Miryam - she picked the whole time and really had a feel for perfect ripeness. I was worried she would get bored but she was a proper strawberry picker and filled her basket over and over.
I treated myself to a new pairing knife from a local knife-maker because I knew I was in for some work when we got home. The knife is gorgeous, hand forged with a rosewood handle and fits perfectly in my hand. Apparently, with proper care this is the only paring knife I'll ever buy which in fine by me. I have been trying to "buy less, buy quality" and only purchase things that are beautifully crafted, practical and will last for ever with proper care. I remember as a child having visions of a home where everything was hand-made in it - every bowl, blanket and piece of furniture (though I never could figure out how to get a hand-crafted toothbrush...) and that daydream continues now. In theory, all I really want are beautiful, artisan made items but sometimes I feel the pull of the retail-therapy-impulse-purchase that will will bring such little joy after the immediate buzz. We go to lots of fairs and such during the year and I, invevitably, see some of the same crafters over and over and wish I could spend lots of money on them, when I often only invest in one small thing - I really should set aside some money during the year so that when the fair season starts I have some money to spend on some quality tools that I lust after year after year. It's so much easier to grab a cheap-o plastic one when you see it on the rack at the store. It's all about mindfulness and not always doing the first, easiest thing. And having pride in, and respect for, your tools no matter how humble. I'm learning and practicing...
So. Strawberries. I hulled all 27 pounds by hand and fell in love with my new knife. I froze 3 1/2 freezer bags, gallon sized, for future use. Last year I made the mistake of throughing them in the bag fresh (which made one bit lump that had to be chizled to make smoothies) but this year I remembered to freeze them separately first on a baking sheet before adding them to the bag. I'm trying to pick and freeze enough berries for smoothies so I don't need to buy any until the berry season starts again. But with the space those strawberries takes up leaves me thinkin' I need a chest freezer.
I also made jam for the first time (delicious), dipped a bunch in chocolate (hello.), and ate the rest with fresh scones for breakfast.
I have truly experienced the strawberry.
p.s. the pictures are from picking at the CSA. My marathon strawberry day has no photographic evidence because I was so caught up in the experience and covered in berry juice.