Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry picking time!

One of my all time favorite things to do with our children is visit pick your own farms. We love berry (any kind) picking, apple, pear and peach picking and pumpkin picking... of course! It's a fun family activity that not only supports local farmers and reduces our carbon footprint, but also gives us the freshest and best product at a fraction of the price. Can't go wrong there! Additionally, these annual fruit (of all types) picking adventures have also become a much anticipated fun family tradition.

We took our three boys (5 and twin 2s) strawberry picking last weekend and they had a great time both picking and eating... okay, more the latter. For this outing we went to Legend Hills Orchard in Utica, OH., which we have also been to for apple picking in the past. They have a large field with many ripe strawberries. This is the beginning of their season, so there are a few more weeks to take advantage of their strawberries.

I like this orchard because it is more remote than some of the other strawberry fields in the Central Ohio area and therefore tends to be less crowded. Another key: the earlier in the day you get there, the better not only for crowds but also for the best berries (in the afternoon heat they get softer and more delicate). They also have a farm market where they sell cheese, pre-picked berries as well as other fruit, jams and a lot of other items. As well, there is an Amish family that sells their baked goods and other products right in front of the store.

If you are looking for that great place to pick strawberries near you, the website that I have used for years to find places to pick fruit is Pick Your Own. This site breaks down by county. When you find the county you want, read the description of what each farm grows to find the ones with strawberries. The vital info on the farms will be listed, as well as customer comments and links to their websites.

Though I haven't been to these specifically for strawberry picking season, I hear that Circle S and Jacquemin Farms are both good places to pick strawberries as well. I have also bought great strawberries from Doran's at our local farmer's market, they have pick your own at their farm too. All four of these, including Legend Hills, (and more) are listed on the Pick Your Own website.

I also found two helpful links on strawberry tips, here and here, which include best times to pick, what to look for, how to store and freeze, how to make jam and many other things.

Happy picking!

My family enjoying our strawberry picking adventure:

How about you? Do you have a favorite strawberry farm? Or a favorite strawberry season family tradition? Tell us about it!


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