I Will Not Be In The Strawberry Fields Forever

One afternoon was enough

Photo by Kim McKinney

I picked strawberries yesterday. I didn’t mean to do it. I dropped by the farm of my niece’s boyfriend and only planned to take pictures, but my niece said she was getting ready to pick. I figured I better help a little. That’s what aunts do.

It wasn’t my favorite experience of the week. I have gotten slack about working out. My 59-year-old body is not bending enough, and to bend over rows of strawberries is not my idea of fun.

I was in the wrong shoes. I love my Tom’s, but when you suffer from plantar fasciitis, they are not the best shoes to wear traipsing through fields.

On top of this, I am allergic to almost everything outside year-round, and spring is the time of the year I suffer most. My skin was itchy. I tend to overlook these allergies, though. I do love the outdoors.

But it was hot. I hate hot.

I’m not always a whiner, but sometimes it slips out. I am not cut out to be a strawberry picker. I also will never be the master gardener, so I will have to buy from local farmers or make sure I have plenty of friends who love gardening and share their bounty. But yesterday, I picked strawberries anyway.

At the strawberry fields, I started walking down the aisles and bending down to pick the berries. Did I mention that this was my first time doing this? Most people who live here look forward to it as a yearly activity. I have always avoided it. I was smart.

As I continued picking, I soon began crawling down the row. It was a bit pathetic. My body had reached maximum bending capacity. The row seemed to grow as I went along. But I kept picking.

You must know the “right” berries to pick. I can choose the best berries at the grocery store, but it’s different when you’re picking here. Where they may pick them when they still look anemic, my niece will give them another day. I had her give me a review on my first bucket, and she found a few that were picked a bit premature. She said I did pretty well, though.

A few other people arrived to help her. I finally made my great escape and went home, berries in hand.

Whether you have picked your own berries or brought them home from elsewhere, the North Carolina Strawberry Association advises keeping the cap on them for as long as possible. This keeps the moisture in the berry. Don’t wash them until you are ready to use them. They stay fresher longer, and it avoids bruising.

Store strawberries in a shallow container in the refrigerator, removing damaged ones, to retain freshness.

Freezing berries is easy. Put berries on a single layer on a cookie sheet in your freezer, then after frozen slip them into freezer bags.

One cup of berries has only 50 calories and yet contains 140% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C. Little healthy packets of goodness.

Some strawberry-producing states may struggle a bit this year due to the impact of the coronavirus. California produces berries for many in the restaurant industry, so producers there worry about having excess fruit.

Therefore it’s an excellent year to purchase extra berries and freeze your own to keep the goodness coming all year. Or get extra and donate to your local food bank. Fresh produce is always welcome there. You may also have friends who have lost their jobs. A little gift of some fresh berries may bring a smile.

A strawberry pie will be a treat during isolation. Or strawberry shortcake. Or strawberry cheesecake. Or how about just a plain bowl of strawberries or some added to a salad? They are versatile, and you stay-at-home eaters can easily enhance your meals with this beautiful, tasty, and nutritious fruit.

How about a pretzel salad? That’s a favorite indulgence in my family. Here’s a recipe from Taste of Home magazine in case you want to give that a try.

This year people in my area are tired of staying home. I expect the strawberry fields will be as busy as usual. Pickers will find there are changes in operations due to the coronavirus. Those working with my niece and her boyfriend are wearing masks and gloves to pick to make it a safe activity. Pickers will spread out throughout the field for distancing.

I hope it is a successful strawberry season for all. I appreciate our farmers. Lots of work go into these fields. I probably won’t be volunteering to pick my own berries in the future, but I can assure you that they are going to be on my table every year.

Though if my niece needs me, I’ll probably do it again. Picking your own berries is a good way to get in a workout, with a bit of an extra payoff.

Written by

I write about people, faith, travel, adventure, justice & life. I love a good story. I blog for fun at kimberleymckinney.com; twitter.com/kimmckinney719

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