Strawberry Fields

Now that we put up a more effective and bird-friendly fence around our strawberries, we are actually getting some ripe ones for ourselves:

These are a variety called "Tribute." They are day neutral, which means that, unlike traditional June strawberries, they will set blossoms and fruit throughout the summer, regardless of how many hours of sunlight they receive. We started with these as the first section of our strawberry patch because we really wanted to be able to pick some fruit in the first season. We dutifully pulled off all the blossoms up until July 1 so the plants would get well-established, and now we finally have some strawberries!

Because this variety sets fruit throughout the season, it's more of a snacking strawberry, because you won't have a ton of berries at any one time to preserve or bake with. For example, here is what I picked the other morning:

There are lots more out there, but they just don't all ripen at the same time. As for flavor, they are okay. We've eaten some that aren't very sweet, even though they look very red and ripe. Others are better, and they have a lot of strawberry aroma and essence. We'll see if it's just the first few small ones that were iffy, or if we need to adjust fertilizer or water (likely more of the first and less of the second). 

If, after a few years, we never really like these, we'll replace them when we get back around to that part of the bed. Our strawberry bed is divided into four sections, and each year we'll plant a section with a different variety. Four years from now our bed will be full, but these Tribute plants will be four years old, and likely spent (especially since we aren't letting them set runners). We will then begin replacing on rotation as well. This will let us try several varieties until we decide on some favorites.

In the meantime, a good friend taught me the very best way to deal with less-than-sweet strawberries. Take the whole strawberry and dip it in sour cream, then dip it again a dish of granulated brown sugar. The sugar sticks to the cream to coat the berry, and it is delicious. The granulated brown sugar adds great flavor, but doesn't clump like regular brown sugar. And don't be afraid of the sour cream — it's awesome!


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