It’s strawberry season again! Here are some great tips to help you and your family enjoy this delicious fruit, and make some lasting family memories while picking or making delicious strawberry treats!
When should I pick my strawberries?
For those in Virginia, May is the prime time to pick strawberries. Head over to some of the many fields in Pungo or Chesapeake, get a bucket, and fill it up! You can usually find the best berries in the middle of the field- so resist the urge to hang out at the end of the row!
Also, if you’ve ever wondered, how do I properly pick strawberries off the plant? It’s not as difficult as you’d think, which is what makes it a great family activity! Just find the red berries, gently pull, and place in your buckets.
Another an expert tip: don’t pick the berries unless they’re red and ripe. So if you’re heading out with little ones who might eat more berries than they pick, or think that green strawberries will eventually ripen (spoiler alert: they won’t), most of these farms offer their own produce market (some are only available for online order/pickup, so check their social media pages). That way, you can get the professionally-picked berries to supplement your own haul. This strategy also works well at apple and peach orchards during those seasons, too!
Should I bring my kids strawberry picking?
Absolutely! Strawberry picking with children offers continuous entertainment for a morning or afternoon, especially if you pack a picnic. Activities often vary from week to weekend so you might want to call the farms to plan ahead. If your children are too young to understand the necessity of social distancing, or if you are unable to keep them from eating the berries or staying at least 6 feet away from others, it may be a good idea to skip the strawberry patches this year.
Following New Guidelines
With the recent complications with coronavirus COVID-19, many farms have been implementing extra guidelines for field picking that are STRICTLY enforced. Be sure to check out the farm’s Facebook page for up-to-date info about safety precautions, new regulations, and ways you can safely pick berries! If we follow their rules, then they’ll continue to stay open! While each farm is different, here are some newer guidelines to look for:
- Stay home if you are anyone in your house is sick! You don’t want to take any risks.
- Stay six feet apart from anyone who is not in your immediate household, both in the field and at the farm stand. Do not walk up to the register if someone is checking out, wait at least 6 feet away.
- Many farms will have you pick in alternating rows in order to keep everybody well-separated. Follow their guidelines, they’re trying to keep everyone as safe as possible.
- For the safety of staff and guests, wear a mask if you have one to prevent contamination.
- Many farms are not allowing you to bring your own containers from home, nor weighing the baskets. Instead, expect to use a pre-priced container provided by the farm.
- Sampling of the berries is most likely not allowed. If you touch it, put it in your basket! If your little ones aren’t old enough to understand or follow this rule, it may not be a good idea for them this year.
- See if the farm takes credit or debit cards. Many will discourage cash this year as a precautionary measure.
- Wash/disinfect your hands both before and after picking berries.
Where should I go for strawberry picking?
There are many, many farms in Virginia where you can enjoy those freshly-picked berries. Here are a few of our favorites where you can pick-your-own-strawberries. As great as these farms are, we highly advise calling them before you go or checking ahead on social media so you can be sure the farms are open with plenty of berries.
Also, each farm has different guidelines about where to pick, so follow them! They’re not trying to keep you from the best berries if they only tell you to pick in a certain place. They want to make sure each guest has the best and safest experience, so go where they lead!
- Brookdale Farm: With locations in both Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Brookdale Farm offers many acres where you can pick strawberries and enjoy the farm, which includes friendly animals and places to picnic. Check out their social media for up-to-date info!
- Cullipher Farms: This year, instead of their regular farmstand, they’re doing completely contact-less pickups! Pre-order online from the Cullipher Farm market where you can get goodies like fresh greens and veggies, baked goods, and even ice cream.
- Henley Farms: This family-run farm has been offering delicious strawberries for four generations! And if you’re in the mood for something beyond strawberries, you can also pick-your-own kale or lettuce.
- Historic Greenbrier Farms: These lovely farms have been in business since 1916, and still offer u-pick strawberries for kids of all ages!
- Hickory Ridge Farm: This year, in addition to strawberry picking, Hickory Ridge Farm is offering grab bags with plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and other yummy products like jams and peanuts. Check their Facebook page, then make a list and bring it with you. They’ll bring you everything you need from the comfort of your own car!
- Mount Pleasant Farms: Established in 1992 as a family-owned farm in Chesapeake, Virginia, Mount Pleasant offers strawberry picking in the fields! Check out their Facebook page for instructions and info about how to pre-order from their market and have it delivered to your car. They’re offering grab-bags to go this year filled with fresh veggies. In addition, you can pick up pre-picked strawberries, fresh eggs, strawberry cheesecake, and wildflower honey!
What are some of the best recipes with freshly-picked strawberries?
It’s so hard to pick the best way to prepare our favorite berries! From jams to shortcake, here are a few favorites.
Strawberry Bread: Moist and delicious, you’ll love this recipe from Brookdale Farm!
Strawberry Jam: Jams are a perfect way to extend the shelf-life of those extra strawberries if they last that long! Try this easy three-ingredient recipe, and spread on fresh toast in the morning.
Strawberry Basil Ice Cream:
Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
- ice cream maker
- 1 1 (5-oz.) can 1 (5-oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries
- 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Whisk together first 6 ingredients; cover and chill 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, put strawberries, basil, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times-- until finely chopped. Combine strawberry mixture into the chilled milk mixture.
- Pour milk mixture into freezer container of a 1-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to the ice cream maker's instructions (this may vary).
- Remove ice cream container from ice-cream maker, and freeze 30 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to an airtight container or pan covered tightly with tin foil; freeze 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
Paleo and Vegan Strawberry Crumble: So you want the joy of eating a strawberry pastry, but have dietary restrictions? No problem! This recipe offers a delicious strawberry dessert that allows you a guilt-free indulgence.
Strawberry Pie: A variation of this recipe has been one of our family favorites for years! Throw in some blueberries, and you’ve got the perfect 4th of July pie! But we love to eat it year-round.
Strawberry Shortcake: This quintessential strawberry recipe is absolutely delicious: shortcake and homemade whipped cream topped with fresh strawberries; what could be better? Enjoy!
The Fruit of May
There so many ways to enjoy strawberries! Whether heading out to the fields with your family or baking some strawberry desserts, this amazing fruit brings joy to so many. What are your favorite strawberry-related activities? Let us know in the comments, or on your favorite family app.