I’m excited it’s officially the season of summer. With school out and strawberries ripening, now is the time to head to a pick-your-own strawberry farm. My kids and I started our annual June strawberry picking tradition several years ago. They are so excited to pick each year and strawberry shortcake is now a favorite. We have visited two local farms that I recommend for Minnesota Twin Cities people: Bauer Berry Farm http://bauerberry.com/ and The Berry Patch http://www.berrypatchmn.com/
The kids love berries, but the kids turn to mush just as fast as ripe strawberries in the heat and sun. Here are some tips for taking your kids out picking.
- Go Early: Most pick-your-own patches open early and close early. We always plan to head out early in the morning hours long before lunch. Early is better also because it isn’t so hot.
- Speaking of hot: It’s hot work picking strawberries in the sun kneeling on scratchy hay. The kids love the idea of strawberry picking and they love to eat them. But in truth they don’t last all that long before they are hot and tired of picking. To appease the young natives, I bring plenty of water or Gatorade. Eating juicy strawberries while picking helps keep them hydrated too.
- Get your picking hands ready because you will end up doing most of the picking. The kids will pick berries but they will eat more than the pick, at least mine do. They get bored of picking faster than you, so mom hauls in the bulk of the berries. That is if you want to take a decent amount of strawberries home. The best way to pick a strawberry is to grasp the stem between your thumb and forefinger and pinch.
- Young kids: If you are bringing young kids under age six, make sure you have enough adults or older kids along to pick alongside them to be their guides. They will need advice on which are the best red berries to pick. I hear this question many times, “Is this a one good Mom?” They will need reminders to place them gently into the box rather than chucking them in. Older kids and adults can also watch the young ones to make sure they don’t stomp on the plants or squish the strawberries by stepping on them. Patch workers will be on the lookout trying to prevent such catastrophes.
- Tender berries need quick care: When you pick the berries they tend to be more fragile than the ones bought at the store. They will begin to juice quickly if you don’t pick them with some stem at the top. Strawberries can even begin to rot if left in the heat for too long so get them into a cool place like your fridge quick as possible. I cut strawberries into pieces for about an hour after we get home and sugar them to get them juicy for shortcake.
- Storage: It’s best to store them in the refrigerator in no more than two or three layers high because they are so fragile. The weight of the strawberries in the top layer can damage the berries on the bottom if stacked too high. Ensure you have plenty of containers because once you start prepping them for the fridge you will realize you have more than you thought.
- Eating the fruits of your labor: Next comes the yummy part when you get to chow down on them in the coolness of your air conditioned kitchen. I buy the dessert shells from the grocery store bakery and top with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and strawberries for delicious strawberry shortcake.
Enjoy your summer fun at the strawberry patch. Raspberry picking season comes next which is another one of our favorite summer traditions.
You might also like this post: https://www.juliehoagwriter.com/2016/05/24/100-things-kids-summer-twin-cities/
For a fun recipe with strawberries try this: http://herviewfromhome.com/strawberry-shortcake-scones/