Follow the farm

Pick your own - Strawberries

Strawberries (fragaria ananassa)

When available to pick: June – September (main crop June)

2018 - The current heatwave is placing our crops under considerable stress. Strawberry plants in particular are not tolerant of very hot weather. We are trying our best, but sadly availability is currently limited.

 Strawberries really are the quintessential summer fruit. Historically strawberries were unavailable after the main crop finished towards the end of June. Luckily over the last few decades, advances in plant breeding and selection mean we can now grown strawberries well into autumn.

AVAILABILITY

Limited

Strawberry fields forever

There really isn't anything like a ripe, outdoor grown strawberry, you can taste the sunshine!

Generally speaking, commercial growers supplying supermarkets are more focused on fruit size (larger berries command a higher price), firmness (for better shipping and shelf life) and disease/pest resistance than they are with flavour.

When you buy directly from a Pick Your Own farm you really are enjoying perfectly ripe fruit in the very best condition. Fruit supplied to supermarkets can be picked days before it is fully ripe to allow for transportation time and a longer shelf life.

When to pick?

Our main crop of Strawberries is available to pick around the start of June and this is when our most abundant crop is available (the exact date varies from year to year depending on weather)

In order to ensure a continuous supply of strawberries over the summer months we grow a number of different varieties of strawberries in different fields across the farm. On arrival, please check with our staff which field to pick from as this is likely to have changed since your last visit. Patches ready to pick are marked with a strawberry sign!

Our late variety ‘everbearers’ continue to produce fruit until the first frosts of autumn but this is a slower fruiting variety. It is always worth calling ahead to check availability in late summer particularly after extreme weather.

Growing method

All of our strawberries are outdoor grown ground level plants. We do not use polytunnels or grow tabletop strawberries. We believe this does not produce fruit of the same quality as traditional fruit grown outdoors in the summer sun.

How to pick

  • You should only pick good sized red fruit. Unlike other crops such as tomatoes, Strawberries will not continue to ripen once they are picked. Picking unripe fruit is a waste of our crop and your money!
  • To pick, grasp the stem just above the berry between forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion. Keeping the stem and calix attached to the fruit will extend it’s shelf life considerably.
  • Washing fruit accelerates is deterioration. We only recommend you wash your fruit just before eating it.
  • Expert Tip: make sure to make your way to the far end of the rows, most casual pickers don't make it this far!
How to pick - strawberry.jpg

Strawberry facts

There are species of strawberry native to temperate climates all over the world. However the strawberries we know today have their roots in 18th century France.

In the 1750s the modern garden strawberry was cultivated from a crossing of wild strawberry varieties in Brittany.

Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside. On average, a strawberry has over 200 seeds on its external membrane.

You may think the strawberries derive their name from our modern practice of laying straw in the fields but this is not the case! The world strawberry derives from old English word Steowberie which was certainly in use centuries before the practice of straw laying became common. The most popular explanation being that, left unchecked, the runners of the strawberry plant will 'stray' or 'strew' all over a field.

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry jam is slightly trickier to prepare than raspberry jam as strawberries are lower in pectin (particularly if they are very ripe). However it is worth persevering, a little practice makes perfect and there is no substitute for home made strawberry jam, even the very best commercially produced jams are unlikely to contain as much fruit as the jam you can make for yourself.

  • 1KG ripe strawberries (if you are using very ripe fruit you may need to add additional pectin)
  • 750g Jam sugar.
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon.
strawberry jam crop.jpg

Method

  1. Before starting the jam, put 2 saucers in the freezer.
  2. Prepare the strawberries by wiping them with a piece of damp kitchen paper. (Wiping the strawberries rather than washing them ensures the fruit doesn’t absorb lots of water – too much water and the jam won’t set easily.) To hull the fruit, use a knife to cut a cone shape into the strawberry and remove the stem. Cut any large berries in half.
  3. Put the strawberries in a bowl and gently toss through the sugar. Leave uncovered at room temperature for 12 hrs or overnight. This process helps the sugar to dissolve, ensures the fruit doesn’t disintegrate too much and helps to keep its vibrant colour.
  4. Tip the strawberry mixture into a preserving pan with the lemon juice. Set over a low heat and cook very gently. If any sugar remains on the sides of the pan, dip a pastry brush in hot water and brush the sugar away.
  5. When you can no longer feel any grains of sugar remaining, turn up the heat to start bubbling the jam and bringing it to the boil. (The sugar must be completely dissolved before increasing the heat, otherwise it will be difficult for the jam to set, and it may contain crystallised lumps of sugar.)
  6. Boil hard for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C on a preserving or digital thermometer, then turn off the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, spoon a little jam onto one of the cold saucers. Leave for 30 secs, then push with your finger; if the jam wrinkles and doesn’t flood to fill the gap, it is ready. If not, turn the heat back on and boil for 2 mins more, then turn off the heat and do the wrinkle test again. Repeat until ready.
  7. Use a spoon to skim any scum that has risen to the surface and discard this. Do this only once at the end, rather than constantly during the boiling stage, to reduce wastage.
  8. Add a knob of butter, if you like, to the finished jam, and stir in to melt. This will help to dissolve any remaining scum that you haven’t managed to spoon off the top. Leave the jam to settle for 15 mins – this will ensure that the fruit stays suspended in the mixture and doesn’t all float to the top of the jam jar. Meanwhile, sterilise your jars.
  9. Ladle jam into the warm jars, filling to just below the rim. Place a wax disc on top of the jam (this prevents mildew forming), then cover with a lid or a cellophane circle and elastic band. Pop on a label (include the date), plus a pretty fabric top, if you like. The jam can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening


Strawberry Jam

This recipe for strawberry jam is slightly trickier to prepare than raspberry jam as strawberries are lower in pectin (particularly if they are very ripe. However it is worth persevering. There is no substitute for home made strawberry jam, even the very best commercially produced jams are unlikely to contain as much fruit as the jam you can make for yourself.

  • 1KG ripe strawberries (if you are using very ripe fruit you may need to add additional pectin)
  • 750g Jam sugar.
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon.

Method

  1. Prepare the strawberries by wiping them with a piece of damp kitchen paper. (Wiping the strawberries rather than washing them ensures the fruit doesn’t absorb lots of water – too much water and the jam won’t set easily.) To hull the fruit, use a knife to cut a cone shape into the strawberry and remove the stem. Cut any large berries in half.
  2. Put the strawberries in a bowl and gently toss through the sugar. Leave uncovered at room temperature for 12 hrs or overnight. This process helps the sugar to dissolve, ensures the fruit doesn’t disintegrate too much and helps to keep its vibrant colour.
  3. Before starting the jam, put 2 saucers in the freezer. Tip the strawberry mixture into a preserving pan with the lemon juice. Set over a low heat and cook very gently. If any sugar remains on the sides of the pan, dip a pastry brush in hot water and brush the sugar away.
  4. When you can no longer feel any grains of sugar remaining, turn up the heat to start bubbling the jam and bringing it to the boil. (The sugar must be completely dissolved before increasing the heat, otherwise it will be difficult for the jam to set, and it may contain crystallised lumps of sugar.)
  5. Boil hard for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C on a preserving or digital thermometer, then turn off the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, spoon a little jam onto one of the cold saucers. Leave for 30 secs, then push with your finger; if the jam wrinkles and doesn’t flood to fill the gap, it is ready. If not, turn the heat back on and boil for 2 mins more, then turn off the heat and do the wrinkle test again. Repeat until ready.
  6. Use a spoon to skim any scum that has risen to the surface and discard this. Do this only once at the end, rather than constantly during the boiling stage, to reduce wastage.
  7. Add a knob of butter, if you like, to the finished jam, and stir in to melt. This will help to dissolve any remaining scum that you haven’t managed to spoon off the top. Leave the jam to settle for 15 mins – this will ensure that the fruit stays suspended in the mixture and doesn’t all float to the top of the jam jar. Meanwhile, sterilise your jars.
  8. Ladle into warm jars, filling to just below the rim. Place a wax disc on top of the jam (this prevents mildew forming), then cover with a lid or a cellophane circle and elastic band. Pop on a label (include the date), plus a pretty fabric top, if you like. The jam can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening.