Thursday, April 17, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
Heidi Brennan of Sanford was picking strawberries with her children, Madison, 1, and Tyler, 4, at Lavigne's Strawberry Farm in Sanford on Tuesday, when Madison couldn't resist a sample.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Strawberry cheesecake lines the tables at last year's Strawberry Festival in South Berwick, as it will on Saturday.
Where to pick with your pals
HERE'S A SAMPLING of farms in southern Maine where you can pick your own strawberries. It's always a good idea to call first, because farms start their pick-your-own operations at different times. Even after the fields open, sometimes they close for a day to let berries ripen.
Strawberry fields are off Two Lights Road
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Strawberry hotline: 799-3383
William. H. Jordan Farm
21 Wells Road
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Strawberry hotline: 767-2740
Alewives Brook Farm
83 Old Ocean House Road, Route 77
Hours: 9 a.m. until sunset, usually around 7 or 7:30 p.m.
Strawberry hotline: 799-7743
Ahlquist Farm Stand
20 Small Pond Road
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday
Strawberry hotline: 839-4080
187 Doles Ridge Road
Hours: 6 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m. daily, except when closed to ripen
Strawberry hotline: 793-4409
Pineland Farms/Gillespie Farms Division
752 Mayall Road
Hours: Expects to open Thursday; call for hours. Senior discount on Wednesdays for pickers ages 62 and older.
Strawberry hotline: 657-2877
Riverside Farm Stand and Greenhouse
Five miles north of South Berwick on Route 4
Hours: 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. daily
Strawberry hotline: 676-2648
Lavigne Strawberry Farm
158 Whichers Mill Road
Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Strawberry hotline: 324-5497
85 Spiller Farm Lane
Hours: Weather and picking conditions dictate the hours. Call ahead.
Strawberry hotline: 985-2575
WHAT TO DO with all those strawberries?
Why not make some homemade strawberry jam? The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is holding its series of "Preserving the Harvest" workshops again this summer. The first one will be this Tuesday (see details below). For informations on other workshops covering everything from pickling to making salsa, go to: umaine.edu/food-health/food-preservation/hands-on-workshops
WHAT: "Preserving the Harvest" workshop
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
TOPIC: "Hot Water Bath Canning and Freezing: Low-Sugar Jams & Jellies"
WHERE: UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth
COST: $10 (scholarships are available)
INFO: 781-6099; or email Lois Elwell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Strawberry festivals most often serve strawberry shortcake, of course, but they are also good places to try something a little different. At the Third Annual Cape Farm Alliance Strawberry Festival in Cape Elizabeth, strawberry pizza, strawberry cookies and strawberry marshmallows will be on the menu.
Penny Jordan's favorite dish during strawberry season is a salad made with baby spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
"It's like I died and went to heaven," she said. "That, to me, is like summer. It's so light and flavorful."
If you want to pick your own, it looks as if there will be plenty of opportunities this year. Handley said most of the growers he's talked to from Augusta south are aiming to open up this weekend.
But it's always a good idea to call first, because small changes in the weather can make a big difference in how fast berries ripen in different parts of the state. Plus, once a farm is picked out, sometimes they'll close a day or two to allow more berries to ripen.
The bottom line? When it comes to picking strawberries, the telephone is your friend.
Once you pick your berries, how do you make this luscious taste of summer last as long as possible?
Maine strawberries are not like California berries, which last much longer after picking, notes Bill Bamford.
"My first recommendation is to eat them just as soon as you can," he said. "I personally wouldn't want to hold onto them more than 24 hours."
Handley said most strawberries will keep one to three days out on the counter. They'll keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, "but generally what I'd recommend is you don't stack them too deep."
"Put them in a shallow container, and then put at least one wrap of plastic over them," Handley said. "This way the condensation won't get on them, and they won't dehydrate. That's typically what happens in the fridge – the water tends to come out of them a little bit."
Wash the berries before you eat them, but don't wash them before you put them in the refrigerator, or they'll rot.
If you want to freeze your berries, lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them individually before transferring them to a freezer bag. That way you won't have a big frozen clump to thaw out when all you want is a handful of berries for your smoothie.
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: email@example.com
Follow her on Twitter at: Twitter.com/MeredithGoad
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