They’re everywhere! Farm stands all across the region are loaded with flats of glistening, deep red strawberries that are nothing short of glorious! They’re ultra sweet and intense with bright berry flavour and soft red flesh that is as dense in colour and flavour on the inside as they are on the outside. What other reason do you need for eating Ontario strawberries in season!
You can even find wild strawberries in certain areas. These tiny red pearls are incredibly sweet with a burst of strawberry intensity. They’re amazingly delicious! While we won’t find many of these fraises des bois or “strawberries of the woods” on farm stands, it’s a sea of red at Ontario’s markets right now.
Strawberries are fragile and highly perishable, especially when perfectly ripe. The best place to find perfectly ripe berries (besides picking them yourself), is to shop at farmers’ markets, on-farm markets or roadside stands. Shop daily (after all it is strawberry season!) and buy only what you need for the day.
I find strawberry season way too short, blink and it’s gone. Doug Whitty of Whitty Farms (corner of 4th and 7th Avenue) in west St. Catharines has learned the latest fruit growing techniques from England and Switzerland and has adapted those European technologies to his farm in an attempt to increase the growing season for strawberries in Niagara. If the Whitty’s are successful, it means a longer growing season!
Ontario strawberries are so flavourful there’s no need to be adding black pepper to enhance the flavour. Just plain strawberries don’t get any better than in Niagara. Although have you heard of the red wine theory?
I tried this one and I really like it. Just add a bit of red wine to a bowl of strawberries – perfectly ripe Ontario strawberries of course. While you don’t want to do this with a thirty-year-old Brunello, ordinary red table wines are inevitably enhanced by the berries – the taste is exquisite.
From jam and jellies, to pies and tarts I don’t know of anyone who can resist the sight of glistening red strawberries just picked from the field. They dress up a salad and perk up a sauce and are a welcome garnish in almost any dish from appetizers, entrees, side dishes and of course their staring role in desserts. If nothing else, enjoy them freshly picked from the field. The red stained fingers are well worth this great summertime tradition.