Summer in Oregon is my favorite season...but not for the reasons that you may think. I'm one of those Portlanders who adores the rain, so it's not that I'm a sun-starved, can't-stand-another-drop-of-rain person. The reason I love summer in Oregon can be summed up in two words: Hood strawberries. This is the strawberry that all other strawberries aspire to be. Their flavor is so intensely sweet and luscious it might cause you to wonder why have you wasted your tastebuds on those rubbery, bland, pseudo-strawberries from elsewhere. There’s just nothing like the flavor of our local Hood strawberries. So you can imagine my delight when I received this update from Chris Harris, our local produce buyer:
"The warm weather has brought on the local berries sooner than expected. And this year, we could have more local organic strawberries than we have ever seen before. We have four growers lined up to supply us:
- Unger Farms in Cornelius, Oregon, will be delivering the classic Hood variety of strawberries to stores daily starting this Saturday.
- Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island, Oregon, has 6 to 8 acres devoted to organic strawberries with Hoods, as well as three ever-bearing varieties: Tillamook, Seacrest, and Aroma. Attached are pictures from my visit to Bella Organics yesterday.
- This weekend, we will also see some organic berries from Zorn Farm in St. Paul, Oregon, who has about 2.5 acres of the Totem variety (very similar to Hoods but not quite as perishable)
- And next week we will see some organic berries from Ken Efimoff in Woodburn, Oregon, who has about 1.5 acres of Hoods. With all these local growers…we should be able to get fresh organic berries delivered to our stores six days a week.
Sounds like we will have a bumper crop of local berries, so if you want to extend the Hood season you can buy a flat (or two) and freeze some or make a batch of strawberry refrigerator jam. Here’s one of my favorite recipes—it’s fast and doesn’t require a degree in chemistry to make:
2 Pints Hood Strawberries
1 ½ c. Cane Sugar (I use Woodstock Farms Organic Cane Sugar)
1 T Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
Rinse, hull and slice berries and combine with sugar and lemon juice.
Allow to macerate overnight, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is melted.
Next day, bring to a boil over medium heat.
Remove berries to a bowl with a slotted spoon and cook until the consistency of syrup or for you chemistry wonks: 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Replace the berries in the syrup and cook 3 minutes longer.
Pour into clean containers (glass or plastic) and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
When cool, cover and refrigerate.
This recipe yields 3 cups and the jam will last a few weeks. You can also freeze it to extend the shelf life.
Maybe you have a great strawberry recipe or story you’d like to share?