It’s Prime Strawberry Season At A Farm Near You in Oakville/Burlington

One morning over breakfast, my toddler asked for “star-berries.” She described them as, “Da red ones with da dots.” Strawberries! She wanted strawberries on her pancakes. I think she was onto something.

Strawberries are indeed celebrity berries in my opinion. Ever heard of strawberry glam jam? That’s what I call it, anyway… the shimmery preserve made with edible glitter has undeniable star quality. Nevertheless, strawberries on their own are the superstar of fruit farms at this time of year.

Eaten fresh, baked in a pie, tossed in a salad, or enjoyed in any number of mouthwatering ways, strawberries are a celebrated sign of summer. Speaking of summer, we visited Springridge Farm every summer and fall when my kids were little.

Now that they’re grown and no longer interested in wagon rides or the Fun Farmyard, I visit Springridge on my own to stroll around the Barn Market. I always stop in at the bakery to pick up a pie and some preserves that I end up sharing with my big kids.

What they don’t know is I usually eat a strawberry tart or two on the way home. You snooze, you lose, kids. “Strawberry season is an exciting time here at Springridge Farm,” says Farmer John Hughes, co-owner.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been growing and harvesting everybody’s favourite berries for almost 40 years. We pick them at their peak, so they’re always fresh and ready for you to take home and enjoy.” If you feel like channeling your inner farmer by picking your own berries, head to Andrews Farm Market and Winery.

Established in 1980, this 165-acre community farm in Halton Hills has grown to include a winery (Strawberry Wine? Yes please!), a playground, and an animal corral. Pick your own berries or buy a basket from their “proud to be local” farm store.

Matt Setzkorn, Operations Manager at Andrews Farm says, “If you’re picking your own, choose strawberries that are bright red all over with green caps.

Avoid berries that are mostly white or green, as they’re not fully ripe. Lift the leaves gently to check for any hidden berries underneath. Sometimes the ripest ones are tucked away out of sight.

To harvest the berries, grasp the stem just above the berry between your thumb and forefinger, then give it a gentle twist. This should detach the berry from the plant without damaging it.”

Wondering what to do with your berry bounty once you’ve picked them or picked out the perfect basket at the farm store?

Indulge in their sweet, perfect ripeness and gorge. You can also dip strawberries in chocolate, add them to yogurt, preserve them in a jam, or use them in your baking.

OLD-FASHIONED ENGLISH TRIFLE

YOU’LL NEED:

1 pound cake (store-bought works)

1 jar strawberry jam

1 ó cups sliced strawberries

1 ½ cups plain greek yogurt (0%)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste

4 (or more) fresh whole strawberries for garnish

Slice the pound cake crosswise into ó inch slices, set aside. In a small bowl, stir vanilla into greek yogurt, set aside. Start with a layer of pound cake in the bottom of each of four large red wine glasses. You will likely need to cut the slices of pound cake into smaller shapes to create this layer – don’t worry, the finished product will look great.

Next, add a thin layer (approx 1/8 inch) of strawberry jam. Then add a layer of strawberries, and then a layer of vanilla-flavoured yogurt (between . and ó inch thick). Repeat layers until glasses are full, aiming to finish with the yogurt layer. Garnish with a whole fresh strawberry and refrigerate until ready to serve!

I always joke that I don’t bake, I “bakery” (pie crust scares me). Thankfully, Springridge Bakery offers a variety of pies, tarts, and other tasty treats. In the words of chef Jesse Lauzon, who heads the Springridge Bakery, “Strawberry shortcake is a summer classic. But another simple dessert that highlights the freshness of in season strawberries is an English Trifle.” 

Lauzon shares this lighter version of trifle, made with vanilla greek yogurt. It packs all kinds of flavour and couldn’t be simpler to put together.

“Make individual servings in large red-wine glasses, or make one large layered trifle in your favourite large glass bowl or trifle dish,” he says.

Whether you go berry picking, pick up a basket from a local farm, or enjoy berries plucked from your own garden, strawberries will undoubtedly be the star of your brunch, picnic, or dessert this season.

Enjoy! And try not to get strawberry juice on your shirt.

By Lisa Thornbury

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