A freshly picked strawberry, juicy, ripe, and warmed by the sun, is the taste of the summer solstice. This month we celebrate strawberries as June’s Harvest of the Month. They are one of the first fruits to be ready in the garden and their sweetness is such a welcome treat to mark the beginning of summer.
Strawberries are a perennial crop, fairly easy to grow in the garden, and will come back every year with just a little bit of work.
Strawberry plants fall into four categories: June-bearing, Ever-bearing, Day-neutral, and Alpine. June-bearing varieties produce one very large crop towards the end of June and are the best if you’d like a quantity with which to make jams. Ever-bearing varieties usually produce two smaller sized crops, one in June and another later in the season. Day-neutral varieties, a personal favorite, produce a small amount of strawberries throughout the season, but stop briefly when it is very hot. Lastly, Alpine strawberries produce a continuous supply of very tiny but incredibly delicious strawberries.
To ensure success with strawberries year after year make sure to weed the bed and control the runners they send out. There’s even a special “strawberry planter” that you can pick up at garden stores to grow plants in a container on your patio.
Try this Strawberry Vinaigrette recipe from Harvest of the Month chef Robin Forte the next time you make a salad.
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 Tbs. sugar or sweetener of your choice
1/3 cup vinegar (white, cider, red wine, rice, sherry, or white balsamic work well)
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine strawberries, sugar, and vinegar in a sauce-pan, cook until berries are soft (3 to 5 minutes). Cool slightly, puree strawberry mixture in the blender and slowly add in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For more information on Harvest of the Month and Island Grown Schools, visit islandgrownschools.org.
Emily Duncker is the Preschool Coordinator for Island Grown Schools.