The do’s and don’ts of strawberry picking in NJ
🍓 Strawberry picking season in NJ is from early May to early June
🍓 There is a right and a wrong way to pick a strawberry
🍓 Storing berries properly will help them last longer
BORDENTOWN — Strawberry picking season is underway in New Jersey and it’s shaping up to be a very good season.
When is strawberry season in New Jersey?
Typically, the strawberry season in the Garden State is about four or five weeks, starting in early May and ending in early June, said Dave Specca, owner of Specca Pick-Your-Own Farm in Bordentown.
This year is shaping up to be one of the best seasons he has seen in a long time, in terms of the number of berries, their size, and flavor, Specca said. If anyone knows, it’s him since he’s been growing strawberries on his pick-your-own farm for the past 30 years.
“What we have been picking so far has been nice red, full, sweet strawberries, really good quality, and it’s nice to see, “ Specca said.
Keep in mind, the season starts in South Jersey first, then it slowly moves up to North Jersey which is about two weeks later to start, Specca said.
“So, for the folks who live in North Jersey, your local farms may not quite have berries ready to pick yet. Certainly from Central Jersey where we are south, we’re definitely getting into full swing in our strawberry season,” he said.
Specca Farm has about six acres and 100,000 strawberry plants ready for picking.
What makes for a great New Jersey strawberry?
Specca said New Jersey strawberries do not like extremely hot temperatures. Over the last month of so, the temperature has been below average, on the cooler side. He said this has helped the strawberry plant leaves to mature.
Locally grown strawberries may also be more perishable lasting only a few days or so at home, than the berries that were picked and shipped to supermarkets, but Specca said what separates a New Jersey strawberry from the others is its sweet aroma, bright red color, and juicy flavor.
“A lot of the aroma and flavor will tend to dissipate from the berry after it’s harvested over time, and that’s why locally grown tends to taste so much better,” Specca said.
What to look for when picking an NJ strawberry?
When going strawberry picking, Specca said to look for a berry that is full red. “They tend to start to produce the red color from the top of the berry where it attaches to the plant and turns red finally down to the tip, so you want a berry that’s red all the way through,” Specca said.
When you pick a Jersey strawberry, Specca suggested picking it from the stem. Don’t pull on the berry itself, because not only will you damage the berry, you could potentially damage the plant, as well. So, just pinch the stem right above the berry, so it protects the fruit and the plant, he added.
How do you store freshly picked New Jersey strawberries?
Again, New Jersey strawberries are more perishable than the berries you find in supermarkets that were picked and shipped over the course of a week.
Specca said if you’re not planning to eat the berries you picked on a farm in two or three days, then put the berries in a plastic bag, still in the quart or the container you bought them in, and stick the plastic bag in the refrigerator.
“They’ll hold there for at least a week, even if they’re very perishable. The plastic bag helps to maintain high humidity around the berries so they don’t dry out and shrivel up,” Specca said.
Where can I find pick-your-own strawberry farms in New Jersey?
Shop Jersey Fresh. A complete list of pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, and farm stands, as well as recipes, can be found here.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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