If you live within a day’s drive to Ancram, NY, I sure hope you’ve got strawberry picking on your calendar soon, because it’s really good right now. I’ve talked to far too many people who have never been to Thompson-Finch Farm, or who just pay their whole month’s rent for a pint of their organic strawberries at the store, so I wanted to come here before the week is truly over and remind you to go, go, GO!
If you need a little nudge, I’m here to offer you an official list, my…
5 STEPS TO STRAWBERRY PICKING SUCCESS!
1. If you’re serious, plan to go without your little kids. If you want to have a lovely outing and see where food comes from and get good photos of strawberry-stained toddler faces and go home with a quart of strawberries, make it a family outing. But if you know you need 20 pounds in the freezer, 25 jars of jam, and at least one pie in the next few days, go kidless or bring someone to hang with your little kids. When my kids turned 5 or 6, they became really good pickers, and then productivity went WAY up. Before that, it was just a lot of fun days of eating strawberries in the field.
2. Call the farm ahead (or check the FB page, if they have one) to see how picking is. Most farms give daily updates, and it’s really worth it to see how thing are before you go, especially when it comes to strawberries. Thompson-Finch has a FB page that they update pretty regularly.
3. Water, sunblock, hats. Bring them. Strawberries grow in bright sun, and that’s where you’ve got to pick them.
4. Try to get a sense of how much you’ll spend before you pick. Especially if the picking is good, it can be easy to spend A LOT of money. So if you’re picking a standard box (like the one above or something similar) ask the people working at the farm for an estimate of how much a full box costs. Thompson Finch’s strawberries are $3.75 a pound this year, so a full box is 12 to 13 pounds, so a full box will set you back about $45. (Just for comparison, the same amount of the same strawberries would be about $110 at our local coop.)
5. Prepare for what your going to to with your berries before you go picking. Coming home with 25 pounds of strawberries can be a little overwhelming, so get ready for it. Try to leave yourself a clean kitchen. If you’re planning on canning, get your jars and equipment ready so you can launch right into it. If you’re freezing berries, take out your cookie sheets, and make sure your stocked up on freezer bags. And if you’re making pie, make the crust before you go, and let it rest in the fridge while you’re picking. For me, having this stuff ready keeps me enthusiastic and ready to bake or can or chop when I get back. Otherwise, I’m likely to get tired, overwhelmed, and leave my berries out too long.
Have a great weekend. I hope there’s pie in you future, or shortcake, or smoothies, or cake, or ice cream, or…