It's Strawberry Season!
Fresh strawberries. There's nothing like them. They're a favorite in dishes both at the Inn and at our Farm Cart.
In the Market Garden, we grow organic strawberries as an annual crop. We buy “tips” (essentially the daughter plants from the runners that a mother plant puts out) and plant them in trays in the greenhouse in mid-July. We grow them for a few weeks in a shaded misting chamber and then in the greenhouse until they're nice big transplants. During the first two weeks of September (generally), we plant the transplants both in the tunnels and in the field. This way, we can have a staggered harvest and have the first berries to market the following spring.
Most pick-your-own operations in Vermont grow strawberries as a perennial, but we like this annual production system for several reasons. It usually produces fruit a few weeks earlier than a perennial system, and the strawberry plant generally produces its best crop in the first year (biggest fruit, easiest to pick, and higher yields). We could keep them for a second year and still get good fruit, but that means taking care of the plant for a whole year before our next harvest. This would require a lot of weeding, watering, pest control and feeding nutrients to hungry, growing plants.
If you go berry-picking this season with your family, you could bring along these Strawberry Life Cycle Cards.
by Jim McCarthy, Executive Chef, Inn at Shelburne Farms
- 1 ½ quarts strawberries
- 1 jalepeno – with or without seeds (your preference)
- 1 shallot
- 1 tomato
- 1 small red pepper
- 1 small fennel
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds – toasted
- ¼ cup whole almonds – toasted
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup candied ginger
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ bottle Moscato or other sweet sparkling wine
Roughly chop all the strawberries, vegetables, and nuts and combine in a bowl with the salt. Cover and let sit out for one hour. This lets all of the flavors combine and allows the salt to soften the vegetables. Working in batches, combine the strawberry mixture with a little bit of the wine and blend until smooth. Cool soup in the refrigerator. Serve cold with a little chopped mint and crushed almonds.