|(TRENTON) – Jersey Fresh strawberries, delicious with everything
from cereal to creamy desserts, are now in season – with
harvests underway in various parts of the state,
Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced
“You know it’s almost summer in New Jersey when Jersey Fresh strawberries
are here, and the Garden State is home to some of the best-tasting, juiciest
strawberries,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Biting into a sweet, plump
Jersey Fresh strawberry picked fresh from one of our many pick-your-own farms,
bought at your local farmers market, or harvested from your own garden is a true
Strawberries should be plump and firm with a bright red color and natural shine.
The size of the berry is not important; the color of the berry and the fragrance
are the best indicators of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid
strawberries with green or white color, or those that appear mushy, shriveled
or leaky. Strawberries do not ripen after harvest, so they should be immediately
stored in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption time as possible.
When purchasing, check the carton for stains, which indicate over-ripeness. Remove
the strawberries from the market or store container. Store in a shallow container
on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a shallow container
is not feasible, put paper towels between the layers. Remove from the refrigerator
and serve at room temperature for optimum flavor. Do not wash strawberries until
ready to eat because their high water content, on top of the additional water,
will result in a mushy berry. Once the caps are removed, an enzyme is released
that destroys the vitamin C. Be certain to remove the caps after rinsing to prevent
the strawberry from becoming waterlogged and from losing vitamin C content.
Strawberries are tasty raw, especially when served with liqueur or when dipped
in balsamic vinegar and brushed with powdered sugar. Preserve as a jam, or easily
freeze by coating in a water and lemon juice mix.
New Jersey produced 1.1 million pounds of strawberries valued at $1.82 million
in 2003. The strawberry season begins at the end of May, peaks during June and
ends in mid-July.
For the location of farm markets, pick-your-own farms or other information on
Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.