I love strawberry season. There are few things more perfect than a juicy, naturally ripened strawberry. And if you live in Philadelphia or New York (or anywhere in most of North America, really) you only get a few weeks each year to enjoy fresh, local strawberries.
As Beltane arrives and marks the middle of spring, an agricultural revolution is already underway. Earth starts bearing her sweet gifts, and none is sweeter than the strawberry. Now keep in mind we’re not talking about manufactured big farm strawberries. These are not Driscoll strawberries grown in California or Florida and picked off the bush before they are fully ripened just so that they can survive the long, boxed journey from the farm to the distribution center to the big box grocery store to your fridge. These are strawberries grown in local fields no more than 50 miles away. These are strawberries picked and driven to a farmer’s market or a co-op near you where you have one day to purchase them and maybe one to two days to consume them before they rot. These strawberries are American Beauties: red, juicy, sweet, and fleeting, and they have arrived here just for you. Yes, they’re expensive, but dear god they are worth it.
If you live in America, follow this simple decision tree to help you decide when you should be looking out for fresh strawberries:
Is it late spring? If yes, look out for fresh strawberries in your local farmer’s markets. If not, read more of this blog to find out what is in season.
The further north you are, the later the season is, obviously, but the sweet period is few weeks long, running from the beginning of May to the end of June. It will be over before you know it, so if you’re strolling by the farmer’s market on a beautiful lazy Saturday afternoon and you see those big red plump berries-who-are-not-actual-berries-according-to-the-botanical-definition, go ahead and pause and treat yourself. You’ll be happy you did. (Today I bought 2 and a half quarts of strawberries from Frecon Farms at the Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market in Philadelphia).
Oh, and don’t get the blues when summer starts and the last strawberry has been picked: very soon it will be blueberry season.