Strawberries … my family’s most favorite fruit, and really, their favorite treat of the entire spring! We love all kinds of berries, but strawberries are the best, especially the ones that are locally grown and oh so sweet.
After living on the West Coast for the past few years, this will be my first official spring living back home since 2011. Moving around so often for the military often left us confused as to when berry season was and when we could find the freshest berries in season. But this is our year, we are home and strawberry season is upon us!!!
Here in the good ol’ South Carolina, strawberry season begins in April around the time our weather is warming up, but isn’t super-hot yet. Several farms throughout the area sell strawberries already picked and others allow you and your kiddos to pick your own! Read on for all the details on how, where and what to do with all those yummy, delicious berries!
U-Pick Farms Throughout the Midlands Area
2533 Trotter Road, Hopkins 29061; Phone: 803-695-1714
This family owned and operated farm uses natural growing practices, meaning no dangerous pesticides are used on the plants. Open March 22, 2019 through Mid-June (weather permitting). Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.
3807 Augusta Highway, Gilbert 29054; Phone: 803-892-2111
Berries are available in pre-picked containers or you can have the fun or picking your own! Hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; or Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The season began in late March, and it is advised to check their Facebook page or call before going. (At the time of publication the patch was closed to allow for more berries to ripen.) Only cash or check is accepted, so be sure to plan accordingly.
3771 South Carolina Highway 23, Monetta 29105; Phone: 803-685-5838
While also being a Southern style restaurant, this farm stand provides berries, fruits, veggies, jams and jellies galore! They are currently harvesting strawberries and kale, along with asparagus through May. Call before going to check on picking availability.
5057 South Carolina Highway 34, Pomaria 29126; Phone: 803-321-5952
Berries are available, both as pre-picked and you pick. Other options include cider, dressing, syrups, and preserves. Berries are available, both as pre-picked and you pick. Hours are Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during strawberry season which runs April to middle of June. Since availability of crop can be hard to predict, it is advised to call before going.
410 Cannon Bridge Road, Orangeburg 29115; Phone: 803-707-0771.
Strawberries available in both options – already picked and u-pick. Open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Not open on Sunday. Season runs April – May. Call before going to check availability.
Pick Your Own Tips For Success
The farms you’ll be picking strawberries in will be dirty, so be sure to dress in something you’re okay with getting messed up. Closed-toed shoes or boots will help to protect your feet and keep the dirt out during your day in the garden. Be sure to bring (and wear!!) sunscreen, especially for the kids. Bug spray might be a good idea too!
Most farms will supply you with a container for your berries but you’ll want to call ahead to make sure and garden gloves might also come in handy!
After You’ve Picked Your Berries
Once you’ve picked your berries, it’s important to take care to keep them in good condition. Strawberries are delicate and keeping them fresh can be challenging. Once you’re ready to use the berries, place them in a colander or strainer and rinse using cool water before you take off the stems. Use your hands to stir the berries around in the colander, gently, but enough to remove dirt that may be attached to the berries.
After rinsing, strain off the water and lay the berries on a paper towel to dry any excess water off of the berries. Be sure not to leave any moisture on the berries, which could potentially cause the strawberries to mold. Store any extra berries in a plastic Tupperware container in the fridge.
If your kids don’t eat them as fast as you put them away, you should be fine to keep the berries in the fridge for up to a week. Otherwise, you can always freeze the strawberries that you pick for a “fresh-picked” taste later in the year!
Must-Try Strawberry Recipes
So, you’ve been out all day and picked tons of berries but what are you planning to do with them?! In my house, if I don’t cook them, freeze them (or hide them), they will get eaten in a matter of hours! With Pinterest, Facebook and so many cookbooks, there are tons of ideas out there for you to try, but I’ve got a few of my favorites to recommend. Hopefully you’ll love them as much as we do!
A family favorite and easy to make! Try this yummy strawberry syrup on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, pound cake, or my husband’s favorite way – straight from the bottle!!
1 lb. strawberries
sugar (to taste)
Remove the stems and cut the berries into quarters. Place the strawberries and sugar into a pot and simmer. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl and pour the strawberry mixture through the strainer. With a spoon, press the strawberries through the strainer to press the liquid through. Pour the strawberry liquid back into the pot boil for another 15 minutes, allow this liquid to reach a syrup like consistency. Once the syrup is complete, allow to cool and then store in a glass jar. Store in the fridge.
Chantilly Cream Stuffed Strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. sugar
strawberries (either halved or left whole)
In an electric mixer, blend cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks begin to form. Place cover on bowl and refrigerate until serving. Once ready to serve, spoon the cream mixture into the strawberries or on top of the strawberries (which ever you prefer).
Easy Jam (No Pectin)
2 lbs fresh strawberries
2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
Wash and remove the stems from the berries. Chop the berries into small pieces. Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan (I only cook in cast iron, but use whatcha got). Stir over low to medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Slowly crank up the heat, wait until the mixture is boiling, stirring very often for 20-30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, turn the heat off, and skim off the foam from the top. Pour the strawberry jam into hot sterile jars. Leave about ¼ in of room in the jar from the top. Place the lid on the top of the jar and make sure the ring is on snug, but no too tight.
Once the jars are filled and lids on tight, place the full jars into boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars cool for a few minutes. Move the jars to a cooling rack or canning rack and allow to cool overnight. Allow the jar seals to pop (you want to hear that sound).