Early summer in New England arguably belongs to the sweet and ruby red strawberry. In the 1958 volume Rain, Hail, and Baked Beans: A New England Seasonal Cook Book, authors Robb Sagendorph and Duncan MacDonald (Yankee‘s founder and former food editor, respectively) say “There is nothing quite equal to the year’s first dish of plump, full, ripe strawberries just off the vine served with cream.”
Oh, how I agree.
After a wet and rainy few days, last Saturday morning dawned windy and cool, but with plenty of sun. Desperate to get outside and enjoy the weather, I decided to do some strawberry picking at nearby Rossview Farm in Concord, New Hampshire, just fifteen minutes away from my Manchester home. A straightforward berry-picking operation, visitors are handed a large cardboard “basket” upon arrival, told which rows are open for picking, and then it’s time to get down to business.
Puddles in the field called for careful stepping, and stooping is a requirement, but there’s nothing so satisfying as moving aside a swath of green leaves and uncovering a clutch of perfectly ripe berries.
When you’re done picking, the basket is weighed and the berries are paid for (at Rossview Farm it’s $2.55 per pound). The process is as simple as that.
Back home, the options for enjoying fresh strawberries are limitless. Raw out of hand, tossed into a salad, baked into a pie, blended into a smoothie, or crushed into sauce are just some of the ways you can enjoy the literal fruits of your labor, and you should try them all.
Fresh strawberry sauce is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the early summer berry. Just slice up a bunch of berries, toss them with a little sugar (out of season or grocery store berries will require a little more sugar than fresh, in-season berries), then set in the fridge to soften and chill for a few hours.
Spooned on top of vanilla ice cream or cake, it’s a lovely, sweet sauce that’s extra flavorful when made with fresh-picked berries, so that’s just what I did.
Want more ideas for your freshly picked strawberries? See our picks for the Best Strawberry Recipes | 10 Summer Berry Favorites.
Or tell us your favorite way to enjoy strawberries!