Strawberry season has begun! Produce Exert Josh Alsberg stopped by to help us choose the best ones! For more produce information from Josh, check out his Instagram.
Oregon's strawberry season is spectacular! Oregon's farms grow a wide variety of tender, juicy and sweet fruit. Some strawberries, like the famous Hood berries, really should be eaten fresh and right away. Some strawberries last a little longer or are great for delicious pies and jams.
• Hood strawberry: If you find sweet, tender Hood strawberries - buy them! Eat them right away! Hood strawberries are remarkably delicious fresh, with an intense strawberry flavor that makes everyone happy. But Hoods are fleeting: the season is only about 3 weeks and they don't last long in the fridge or on the counter. So only buy as many as you will eat in the next day or two, and enjoy!
• Seascape strawberries: Seascape strawberries are a little bit more tart than Hoods, but they last longer and they have a bit more versatility They are great in fresh-strawberry desserts! Think strawberries with panna cotta or strawberries over a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream - Seascape's tartness will stand out in the best way. That tartness also means that Seascapes make delicious jam and pies.
• Albion strawberries: Albions are a workhorse strawberry - they are very consistent over the season, and their season is long. Albions are firm - almost crisp - and that makes them great for fruit salad, chocolate dipped strawberries and salads. Their flavor is the classic, mild sweet strawberry we expect.
• Sweet Ann strawberries: In terms of flavor, the Sweet Ann lands in between an Albion and a Seascape, with the softer texture of the seascape, and the fruitiness of the Albion. It has a really nice after flavor reminiscent of strawberry soda in the best way.
For a really great pint of strawberries, it helps to know your grower. Ask a few questions, and don't hesitate to taste a sample. When we are at the market, we ask growers:
- What are your growing practices? I try stick with farms that don't use pesticides, but everyone has different thresholds of what they want.
- When were these berries harvested? If it rained the day the strawberries were picked, they might be prone to molding quickly. You can dry them out on your counter when you get them home. Or, if they are starting to go, cut them in half and stick them in the freezer on a baking sheet to use in smoothies and baked treats later.
Sometimes berry flavor can even fluctuate within one pint, so be patient and try a few before picking your favorite!
One other secret of Oregon strawberries: they come on strong - and then they come back! (not the Hoods unfortunately) In the last few years we've seen a second flush of really delicious local strawberries when the weather cools down in fall. So keep your eye out at the end of summer for a few strawberry surprises.
Lastly, don't hesitate to try something new with strawberries. Make an arugula salad with strawberries and feta (Albions are great for this!), or make strawberry puree with the Hoods that are turning mushy and make minty strawberry lemonade!