After making great efforts to grow and protect your berries it makes sense to pick them at the peak of their tasty goodness. Here are a couple of quick tips and a brief video on strawberry picking.
- Timing – the time of year depends on where you live and what types of strawberries you grow. However, the best time of the day to pick strawberries is in the morning. The berries are cooler in the morning and so are the air temperatures. Try to avoid picking during or just after a rain. Rain can “dilute” the flavor and make the berries taste sour. Once picked you should either consume them or get them into the refrigerator. *Only wash the berries right before using them. Once washed they will begin to degrade more quickly. We try to eat ours right when picked or within a day of harvest. Otherwise we will use them to make a jam or spread.
- If you have bird netting in place pull it back gently. Sometimes the netting gets stuck on berries and pulls them off the plants. Not good if the berries are not ripe yet because strawberries do not ripen any further after they are picked.
- Strawberries are ready to harvest when they turn red all the way around. It is a delicate balance of waiting too long or not waiting long enough. If you pick too soon the berries will taste sour. If you wait to long the berries can rot (rather fast). My 6 year-old daughter likes to smell the berries and swears she can tell when the berries are at peak ripeness. She is usually correct!
- When picking I try to imagine holding a golf ball and tee in one hand. The “ball” is the berry and the tee is the stem. Be gentle when holding the berry in your palm as ripe berries are easy to damage. Secure the berry between your fingers and your hand and let the stem go up between the thumb and index finger or the index and middle fingers. I use my other hand to stabilize the plant and ensure I do not damage it. Finally, use your thumb to help snap the stem just above the berry. If this is too much reading then just watch the video below. It is easy!
My last tip is to share. Fresh strawberries are a real treat and everyone should taste them at least once per season. Your kids will love them and your neighbors will forever be grateful for a taste!