The Sweetest Gem of Summer
Like or dislike classic rock, The Beatles had it right when they declared, “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
When the warmth of May and June hits this region of the world, our thoughts turn to summer. The sweetest of summer fruits has to be the luscious strawberry. Here are a few reasons to be sweet on this red gem of the fields.
Strawberries in Oregon are one of the oldest and most loved crops. They are nearly a folklore legend for us here in the Northwest. Around the world, other folks look forward to our specialized harvest as well.
The Northwest is known worldwide for a strawberry that is good eating, bright red, wonderfully full flavored and exceptionally sweet. Local Oregon variety strawberries have many qualities, including being pretty finicky about being shipped out of state fresh, they wilt in protest of leaving. We ship most of our berries out or process them in the form of frozen or frozen concentrates for flavoring. They prefer to linger in the cool Oregon weather enjoying our fresh air and welcome sunshine.
More than just a pretty taste
Did you know they keep the weeds out of your landscape? Depending on the variety of strawberry plant you choose, they make a wonderful ground cover allowing you to graze all summer long on fresh little ruby delicacies. To propagate, simply pluck off one of the runners the mother plant sends out (a daughter plant) and lightly cover the crown with a bit of mulch. Or, let them alone and they will spread on their own, filling areas you once battled weeds. As a landscaping tool, they take very little water to keep healthy.
If the strawberries you purchase are grown in Oregon, you can bet you are getting a premium strawberry for fresh eating, recipes or jam making.
To keep this fleeting fruit in your cupboard year round, I suggest that you find a U-Pick field or local farm-stand and make a family day of it. Bring them home and put up a few pints of strawberry jam, freezer jam or strawberry sauce. Nothing will taste more like summer in winter than fresh biscuits slathered with a bright red coating of Oregon Strawberry fruit spread.
For those who enjoy a good jam but want something a little easier try making a sister to jam, strawberry sauce, instead.
Here’s a recipe for Strawberry sauce to top your ice cream with this summer that saves a trip to the grocery store for supplies. If you have jars and strawberries, sugar some lemon juice and a stove, you have on hand most everything you will need for a jar of explosive red, sweet flavor.
Strawberry Sauce Recipe
Make your own fresh strawberry sauce to top your yogurt, morning cereal or a dish of well-deserved ice cream. It’s easy and quick.
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Hull and slice 1 pound of fresh strawberries
- Puree 1/2 pound of hulled and sliced berries
- In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook 20-25 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Serve immediately or keep in an airtight container or glass jar in refrigerator.
Where to find fresh strawberries
If you’re in the mood to pick your own berries, here’s a great resource! PickYourOwn.org maintains an impressive list of small, local fruit stands and farms. Find one close to you and start enjoying the bounty of the Northwest today.