Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Real Thing: Freshly Picked Strawberries

There's nothing quite like freshly picked strawberries, just minutes out of the farm field where they've been grown and harvested, warm, sun-kissed, plump and juicy, and eaten at the very inflection point of their ripeness, when mere moments later they might be, in fact, overripe.

While I am an admirer of the beautiful Driscoll's brand of ruby red, gigantic strawberries astonishingly available throughout the calendar year in many supermarkets (how do they do it?), there is a very short spell--no more than several weeks--in June when the shelves at the local farm stands near Darlington groan under the weight of the juiciest, plumpest, most delectable, locally grown strawberries imaginable that unmask the hybridized ones in supermarkets for what they truly are: mere cardboard shadows of the "real thing," no matter how pretty they might be.  When I eat our locally grown, freshly picked farm stand strawberries in June, I find myself pausing and saying, "Oh, right, that's it.  That's what a strawberry really is."

This past weekend saw the much-anticipated appearance of strawberries at Holmquest Farms, our favorite nearby farm stand, much to the delight of members of the Darlington household (Pompey included) and our weekend guests.  And I must say that this year's bumper crop is one of the best in recent memory, having benefitted from several sultry spells this spring of unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

Perfection, thy name is country farm stand strawberry.

We bought our first batch of strawberries on Saturday and served them alongside a cloud of heavenly coconut cake at a dinner party we hosted that evening in honor of our visiting house guests, all of us giddy with pleasure, each spoon- and forkful a revelation of joy.

After our guests departed Monday morning, Boy consoled himself with another trip to Holmquest Farms to pick up yet another basket of just-picked, luscious strawberries just for us.  He said that he felt fortunate that he was able to buy some that morning, since the strawberries were selling out to delighted customers as fast as the farm hands could reload the shelves with their bounty.  That evening I prepared and served the strawberries, carefully removing their hulls to preserve as much of their juicy, succulent, and sweet fruit as possible.

And we devoured every last one of them, licking our lips and laughing with unbridled pleasure.

Holmquest Farms
516 Spook Rock Road
Hudson, New York 12354
(518) 851-9629

photo by Boy Fenwick


  1. I am totally envious of those strawberries. There's none that look quite as luscious in my little part of the world.

  2. Practically my entire diet this time of year.
    My desert island choice.

  3. Real strawberries are a thing of delight! Ours are coming to market as well and the season is short -- all too short. We do have some little French strawberries in Linderhof's garden -- but the yield is perhaps one small bowl for breakfast. But that bowl . . . . heavenly!

  4. How absolutely blissful.
    Miss W x

  5. Beautiful photo. I can smell them from across the country.

  6. you are so right Reg- I classify peaches, corn and tomatoes with strawberries: When you taste them properly grown, close to where they were harvested and in their proper season, they make even the most expensive off-season offerings of the fanciest New York City grocers taste like saw dust.

  7. My mouth is watering! Thinking the Strawberry Growers Council of America should hire Reggie as its spokesperson! (yum!)

  8. We have been enjoying strawberries fresh from the fields too. I could not have described our delight better than your tale did. This weekend my daughter is making this year's batch of her mother's strawberry jam, much anticipated by all my crowd. Peaches are next in the harvest. Perhaps my mother will teach my daughter how to make pickled peaches.
    Best -
    - Mike

  9. Willow: Get thee on a plane and come to New York in early June!

    Magnus: Indeed! I might, perhaps, add raspberries to your list, too. I am very much looking forward to the summer corn and tomatoes, nothing better!

    Mike: You are a lucky man, sir!

  10. Some strawberry fields stretch out
    along the Conn. river in North Hadley,
    (and sometimes Hatfield.) The largest decision
    you have to make is: how many flats and what variety. (or plural-) Then you dive in, picking along phenomenal rows- absolutely buried in the scent of warm fruit!
    Making a half day of it is generally plenty,
    as you must process the fruit quickly to preserve flavor and prevent bruising.
    we generally made a low sugar
    preserve and a fresh strawberry rhubarb
    pie. The remainder get sliced and sprinkled with lemon and sugar; stirred and after a rest
    go into freezer bags.Sometimes in deference to my partners sweet tooth, I blend him several bags of sauce for ice cream and pancakes!

  11. Nothing nicer than the good old fashioned "real" strawberries. And they made such a lovely picture.

  12. Sadly, my local grocery stores stock strawberries from California, even though there are many growers in this area. (You have to go to the farm to buy them or to the farmers' market, which just started this weekend.) A berry picked hard enough to ship from California to Wisconsin is not going to be very good.

    Every time I walk past my neighbor's strawberry plants in his front yard, I remind myself that it is STEALING to take another's fruit. Even if it is spilling onto the sidewalk, taunting me with a call of "Eat me!" Look what happened the last time a woman took the forbidden fruit.


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