Di West has been farming since she was a foetus. She thinks strawberries are best enjoyed raw and her favourite variety is called Splendour. We sat down at her kitchen table on Saturday, and while my kids pigged out on strawberries, she shared her top ten tips for choosing great strawberries.
how to choose great strawberries
1. strawberries don’t continue to ripen after picking. Look for dark red strawberries that look fresh.
2. buy strawberries packed in a cube. Strawberries packed in cube punnets have been quality and size graded. They’re picked, chilled, sorted and packed. Strawberries packed in long rectangular punnets are packed straight into punnets in the field to save costs. Packers are paid by the kilo, so they’re in a hurry and don’t have time to sort the good stuff from the seconds.
3. size doesn’t matter. Despite popular opinion, smaller strawberries aren’t sweeter that their larger mates. The sweetness of a strawberry is dependant on its variety and the weather. Sunshine makes the berries sweet.
4. strawberries are getting better. Years ago, all strawberries grown in Australia were the same variety. Now there are loads of different varieties all over the country, with new varieties trialled every year. Each of them offers something different, some are ready earlier, some tolerate rain better, some are sweeter, some are larger. You get the picture?
5. this year is a good year for strawberries. Cold nights, warm days and little rain are the trifecta of ideal conditions for strawberries. They’ll be sweet and should be a reasonable price. Di says the best way to support local farmers is to eat more strawberries. This is a support mission I can get behind!
6. varieties change over the season. Early varieties finish and late season varieties become available. They’re not labelled by variety, but if the berries look different, chances are they’ll taste different too.
7. you can buy straight from the grower. The majority of Di’s strawberries go to Coles and the markets in Sydney and Melbourne. If you’re lucky enough to live on the Sunshine Coast you can find Di and her family at the Noosa, Kawana, Nundah, Carseldine and Big Pineapple Markets. Look for the strawberry and banana bunting or ask for the slow-grown banana stall.
Now you’ve chosen great strawberries, get the most out of them:
8. eat them at room temperature. Strawberries have more flavour at room temperature, but they need to be kept in the fridge. If you’re having strawberries for breakfast, take them out of the fridge the night before.
9. don’t wash your strawberries until you’re ready to eat them. Strawberries are covered in very fine hairs which hold onto the water. If you wash them in advance, they’re more likely to spoil.
10. consumers can help improve strawberries. If you buy bad strawberries, complain. Strawberry growers want to ensure the quality of their product, so if you strike a bad punnet take it back. Woolworths and Coles offer money back guarantees so it’s worthwhile returning them.
love strawberries? keen to learn more about the farming process?
ever wondered what recipe strawberry farmers use to make strawberry jam?
If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy dishing the dirt on strawberries, where I share everything
Di told me about farming and jam I could hear Di telling me over the whinging of the Little Sister and the persistent begging for more strawberries by the Big Sister. (I’m pretty sure it was about farming and strawberry jam.)