Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Declaration of Strawberry-ness

Oregon Strawberry Week is June 9 – 15

It’s that time of year, when our lush Willamette Valley soil gives birth to the most delicious fruit in the world—the Hood strawberry.

Only available for a limited time, the Hood strawberry is a local staple, renowned for its deep crimson color and intense flavor. To celebrate, we’re officially proclaiming the week of June 9 – 15 as “Oregon Strawberry Week.”

Join us in honoring the mighty Hood strawberry—as well as other local varieties like the Albion—during our first annual Strawberry Festival, Saturday and Sunday, June 12 – 13, at all stores!

This just in from Chris Harris, our local produce buyer:

“Unger Farms is picking strawberries in the rain this morning for delivery to stores tomorrow and will continue throughout the day as long as the rain doesn’t get too heavy. These are the Albion variety, which is hardier and shouldn’t be damaged too much by the wetness.

They are still planning on picking Hoods tomorrow for Saturday delivery, weather permitting. The Hoods are much more fragile and susceptible to damage and shouldn’t be picked when wet. Hopefully skies will be clear by tomorrow. The Hoods are also supposed to be very large, probably because they have been on the plants so long.

If the sun ever comes out and warms things up we should have a good season, with big beautiful berries. If the weather clears up as expected we should have daily delivery of berries going forward.

Here’s more information on the farms that are supplying us this year:

  • Unger Farms in Cornelius, Oregon, purchased a neighboring 55-acre farm and planted 10 new acres of strawberries. They are providing us with Hood and Albion varieties.
  • Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island, Oregon, has more than doubled its 2009 strawberry acreage to 20 acres! They are growing Tillamook, Hood, Seascape, and Aroma varieties.
  • This weekend, we will also see some organic berries from Zorn Farm in St. Paul, Oregon, which has increased its strawberry acreage from roughly 2.5 to 15 acres of the Totem variety (very similar to Hoods but not quite as perishable).

The Hood season still looks promising, and because it will only last for three to four weeks, enjoy these delicious berries while you can!”


P.S. 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—its fast and doesn’t require a degree in chemistry to make:

Strawberry Refrigerator Jam


Ingredients
2 pints Hood strawberries
1 ½ cups cane sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
1 Tbls. lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Preparation
Rinse, hull and slice berries.

Combine berries with sugar and lemon juice.

Allow to macerate overnight, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is melted.


The 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.

Return the berries to the syrup and cook three minutes longer.

Pour into clean containers (glass or plastic) and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

When cool, cover and refrigerate.

Yield: three cups.


The jam will last a few weeks, but you can also freeze it to extend shelf life. Enjoy!

Got a favorite strawberry recipe? Share it here.