Summer Strawberries - Rediscover Toronto Week 3

Monday, July 7, 2014

It’s week three of my challenge to rediscover Toronto and summer has officially arrived.  I’m not talking about the summer solstice. I’m talking about strawberries.

It was a cool wet spring in Ontario but now that the local strawberries are ready to pick summer can finally begin.

U-Pick Strawberries

Strawberries are typically in season in Southern Ontario between mid June and mid July, but the timing and flavour is very dependent on the weather.  Strawberries like warm days and cool nights. Get the perfect combination of temperature and precipitation, then the plants are lush and berries are plentiful.

Strawberry field, Toronto Strawberry picking, Whittamore Farms strawberries

Take a short drive from Toronto in any direction (except south) and you’ll be sure to have found farmland. By my count there more than 10 farms in a 30 minute radius of the city where you can pick your own strawberries.

We spent a morning at Whittamore Farms. Now my fingers and the bottoms of my shoes are stained red and we’ve got  a big bowl of fresh ripe strawberries for dessert.

Strawberry Picking Tips

  1. Call ahead and ask about the strawberries

Are they ready to pick?  Have they been picked out, and if so, when will the next ones be ripe?  Size doesn’t matter, small and medium sized berries taste just as good as the large ones.

Pick your own strawberries, Toronto Strawberry picking, Whittamore Farm

  1. Bring your own container

All of the farms sell buckets that you can purchase for collecting your berries, but if you bring your own, they will weigh it in advance and deduct the weight before tallying up your strawberry purchase.

strawberry picking Toronto

  1. When to pick

I suggest that you go early when it is less busy and the temperatures are cooler. Most farms open between 8 -9 am during picking season. Weekdays are less busy if you don't like the crowds, but avoid Monday and Tuesday which are more likely to have fewer ripe berries available after a busy weekend of picking.

When to pick strawberries, family fun strawberry picking, Toronto, Whittamore Farms

  1. Pick the bright red, firm berries by the stem

Strawberries unlike most fruit do not continue to ripen after they are picked so make sure that the berry is uniformly red.  Picking by the stem instead of pulling the stem off the fruit extends the freshness of the fruit. You can avoid getting overripe berries by making sure that you only take the firm ones.  If it feels soft, don't pick it.

How to pick strawberries, Whittamore Farm Strawberries, Toronto

  1. Wear shoes that won’t be ruined by a little strawberry juice

It’s inevitable. You will step on a few overly ripe strawberries.  A couple may even stick to the bottom of your shoes.  Do yourself a favour and wear the appropriate shoes, lest you ruin your favourite summer footwear.

Strawberry Picking Toronto

Let the summer begin!

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