Monday, May 6, 2013

National Strawberry Month!

May is National Strawberry Month, and even though this spring's cool weather has delayed fruit production by a week or two, locally grown berries are beginning to show up at farmers markets.

For those of us who buy more of this very perishable fruit than we can readily use, UGA's Family and Consumer Sciences  "Strawberries" brochure offers some helpful tips.

For storage:
"Remove strawberries from their original container and discard any spoiled or moldy berries. Arrange them in a single layer, top with a paper towel and store loosely covered in the refrigerator. Do not remove caps or wash until ready to serve."

For dry pack freezing:
"Spread a single layer of fruit on shallow tray and freeze. When frozen, pack strawberries into a container, seal and freeze."

People who celebrate strawberries for more than just one month by growing their own can find helpful gardening information in UGA's Home Garden Strawberries publication. To make sure that the gardener actually gets to harvest the fruits of his or her labor, protecting the crop from birds by covering it with either netting or another row-cover is a good idea.

Those who are hoping to pick their own berries by the bushel can check the website that lists Atlanta-area U-Pick Farms to locate a farm in easy driving distance. The website doesn't display well in every browser; if the list of farms by county isn't visible near the top of the screen, keep scrolling down until it appears. The list is updated periodically, but not regularly, so it's a good idea to call any farms in advance before visiting, to make sure berries are currently available.

Another source of information about U-Pick Farms is Georgia Department of Agriculture's Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin. Its next "Pick Your Own" special section is scheduled for May 15.