The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Breaking the strawberry fast

Ripening strawberryMom emailed me that she picked the first strawberry out of her garden nearly a week ago.  Even though she lives only an hour and a half away (23 miles as the crow flies), the pavement in her urban location and the lower elevation means she's considerably warmer than we are.

Our strawberries are nowhere near ready --- this photo depicts the one that's furthest along, sporting a tiny hint of color.  The rest need probably two more weeks before they'll even begin to ripen.

Speeding up strawberriesTen miles down the road in the other direction is a huge strawberry farm that serves all of the surrounding grocery stores.  They use row cover fabric and black plastic and their berries tend to ripen up when Mom's do, so I have a feeling Mark could pick me up a whole flat of local fruits at the grocery store today if I asked him nicely.  (Actually, I checked out the farm's website and they had berries starting April 14.)

But do I want to break my strawberry fast on chemical-fertilized red nuggets, or wait for the real deal?

Keep in mind that strawberries are my very favorite fruit (and fruit is my very favorite food group.  Yes, even before chocolate.)  I don't eat berries out of season, so it's been a very long eleven and a half months.  Sure, I've been self-medicating with strawberry leather pretty heavily throughout the winter, but I just don't know if I can wait two more weeks!

Will I, or won't I?

(If you'd like some actual content today, check out my interview on RDG's blog.)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Have you ever tried to flash freeze whole strawberries with dry ice? Alton Brown (Good Eats) did it in a cooler and says their texture comes out almost exactly the same when they thaw. The quick cooling keeps ice crystals from forming in the cell walls and mushing up the fruit. I'm going to try it this year with my own strawberry patch. It could be away to extend the season of delicious, fresh homegrown strawberries!
Comment by Jessie : Improved Fri Apr 20 09:27:22 2012

I enjoyed reading your interview. You are sooooooo down to Earth.

I got into permaculture when my son let me read his book "Gias' Garden" I immediately went out and bought my own copy and have been implimenting its practices a little each year.

This year I have made several huglekulture rows that I am planting with potatoes and a couple fruit sapplings.

I have not done any swels because we live in the middle of a forest. and ground is hard clay.

Comment by mona Fri Apr 20 09:35:44 2012
Anna, you and my daughter Sarah have strawberries in common! My three year old has been eating strawberries like crazy over the last few months. Unfortunately that means out of season and non local- but for now I'm just happy there is a fruit that she'll eat no questions asked :) This year I've planted two- 2x12 raised beds with about 110 plants (plenty of room to spread). HOPEFULLY once they're established they'll keep her happy during the summer! Here's to hoping that your berries ripen well and you get to enjoy your own homegrown soon !
Comment by MamaHomesteader Fri Apr 20 09:50:21 2012

Jessie --- Interesting! I've never tried that, although I have had pretty good luck with maintaining very good strawberry flavor with freezer jam. We still like the leather, better, though. :-)

Mona --- So glad you enjoyed the interview! (And thank you for your kind words!) I've dipped into Gaia's Garden, but I'm wanting to read the whole thing through. Maybe that'll be our next reading club selection!

MamaHomesteader --- You'd better be careful, or you'll end up with a daughter like me. When I was her age, I learned that if I went out to the strawberry patch and ate all those strawberries that just showed the first hint of red, they weren't quite as tasty as when ripe but were pretty good...and no one else got any. :-)

Comment by anna Fri Apr 20 13:22:39 2012
Having to "self medicate" on fruit leather in the cold winter months? Hilarious!
Comment by Maggie Fri Apr 20 19:00:41 2012

Maggie --- Yep, it's a hard life. :-)

We did get those strawberries. They were about half as good as homegrown --- worth eating at this time of year, but I'll turn up my nose in a couple of weeks.

Comment by anna Fri Apr 20 20:09:10 2012

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