If you live within a day’s drive to Ancram, NY, I sure hope you’ve got strawberry picking on your calendar soon, because it’s really good right now. I’ve talked to far too many people who have never been to Thompson-Finch Farm, or who just pay their whole month’s rent for a pint of their organic strawberries at the store, so I wanted to come here before the week is truly over and remind you to go, go, GO!
If you need a little nudge, I’m here to offer you an official list, my…
5 STEPS TO STRAWBERRY PICKING SUCCESS!
1. If you’re serious, plan to go without your little kids. If you want to have a lovely outing and see where food comes from and get good photos of strawberry-stained toddler faces and go home with a quart of strawberries, make it a family outing. But if you know you need 20 pounds in the freezer, 25 jars of jam, and at least one pie in the next few days, go kidless or bring someone to hang with your little kids. When my kids turned 5 or 6, they became really good pickers, and then productivity went WAY up. Before that, it was just a lot of fun days of eating strawberries in the field.
2. Call the farm ahead (or check the FB page, if they have one) to see how picking is. Most farms give daily updates, and it’s really worth it to see how thing are before you go, especially when it comes to strawberries. Thompson-Finch has a FB page that they update pretty regularly.
3. Water, sunblock, hats. Bring them. Strawberries grow in bright sun, and that’s where you’ve got to pick them.
4. Try to get a sense of how much you’ll spend before you pick. Especially if the picking is good, it can be easy to spend A LOT of money. So if you’re picking a standard box (like the one above or something similar) ask the people working at the farm for an estimate of how much a full box costs. Thompson Finch’s strawberries are $3.75 a pound this year, so a full box is 12 to 13 pounds, so a full box will set you back about $45. (Just for comparison, the same amount of the same strawberries would be about $110 at our local coop.)
5. Prepare for what your going to to with your berries before you go picking. Coming home with 25 pounds of strawberries can be a little overwhelming, so get ready for it. Try to leave yourself a clean kitchen. If you’re planning on canning, get your jars and equipment ready so you can launch right into it. If you’re freezing berries, take out your cookie sheets, and make sure your stocked up on freezer bags. And if you’re making pie, make the crust before you go, and let it rest in the fridge while you’re picking. For me, having this stuff ready keeps me enthusiastic and ready to bake or can or chop when I get back. Otherwise, I’m likely to get tired, overwhelmed, and leave my berries out too long.
Have a great weekend. I hope there’s pie in you future, or shortcake, or smoothies, or cake, or ice cream, or…
And: a long shirt – I always end up burning that little strip of exposed back between my waistband and the top of my shirt from bending over to pick. I also usually envy the people who are dedicated enough to bring folded cardboard or a garden mat for kneeling on, especially if it’s been wet or rainy.
Marcia Coakley says
I usually sit (with a big hat on my head) on a re-usable, plastic-coated, hefty grocery bag from WF or other, and “scooch” along, pulling the bag with me by the handles, pushing my tray of berries ahead of me.
I have also used retired berry trays…
I’m all about the overalls for that exact reason. No strip between the shirt and the waistband!
On Saturday, I picked strawberries from our own patch (2 raised beds on either side of our sidewalk). I was able to make about 20-22 jars of jam: strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and strawberry-cherry. I have plans to go to a near by strawberry farm to pick some more. I have more cherries and some blueberries in my freezer that would love to buddy-up with some strawberries in some jam. Picking strawberries–anywhere–is one of our favorite family things to do in the summer!
Perfect timing!! We’re taking our toddlers to pick strawberries tomorrow and I just read your post. Lots of sunscreen, hats, and cute photographs on tomorrow’s agenda. And hey, if I end up with enough to make a pie, that’s a bonus. 🙂
It’s a small world. I heard you on NPR this weekend and came to the blog to explore and… I grew up on Thompson Finch Farm (Marnie and Don are my parents). If you’ve been coming long enough I probably weighed your berries and made your change. It’s just so lovely to come across someone else who knows and appreciates the farm. Thank you for sharing them with your readers.
Ah- wonderful! And yes, I’ve been going for ages, so I’m sure you’ve weighed my berries 🙂 So nice to meet you over here, and always happy to remember how small the world really is…