Strawberry Picking 101: Tips for Bringing Home the Best Berries

Strawberry-Picking-Barrie-Hill-Farms

Strawberry picking in June is an Ontario tradition you don’t want to miss out on. If you haven’t tasted fresh-picked strawberries, then it’s definitely time to sample Ontario’s sweetest treat! Make the most of your first strawberry picking excursion, and ensure your berries are at their best with these suggestions.

When Does Strawberry Picking Season Start?

Strawberries are at the peak of freshness from the end of June to mid-July in Ontario. Since availability is entirely up to mother nature, it’s wise to check with your local farm before planning your trip. Many farms also have an annual Strawberry Festival. Strawberry Festivals are held when strawberries are at their freshest, and usually attract crowds of strawberry lovers with strawberry-themed entertainment and strawberry treats.

To be prepared for your day of strawberry picking, it’s important to bring water, wear a hat and bring sunscreen. It’s also a great idea to bring a gardening pad to comfortably rest your knees on as strawberries are harvested from the ground. To prevent waste, you can also bring your own shallow containers from home.

Strawberry Picking Tips:

• Be choosy with your berries. Pick only the ripe berries that are red all the way to the hull (green tops) and leave the rest to ripen on the plant. Unlike other fruits like tomatoes, strawberries do not ripen after picked.
• To pick the berry, don’t grasp it on the fruit itself, but pinch the green stem and gently twist it. Allow the berry to gently fall into your hand. You can pick with two hands to speed up the process.
• Lay the berries gently in a shallow container, and do not stack them too deep, as the weight of the berries on top will cause bruising on the berries below.
• The ideal berry-picking day is overcast because the berries are cooler and won’t spoil as quickly. It’s perfectly fine to pick in the rain. In fact, it’s enjoyable to pick in a light summer rain!
• Pre-plan what you will do with your berries, and freeze the left-overs, so there is no waste.
• Pick enough strawberries to share with friends.
• Carefully transport the berries home and refrigerate them immediately in a shallow dish, after removing any bruised or spoiled berries. Don’t store them in a hot car for any amount of time as this will speed up spoiling.
• Wash and hull berries (remove the green top and white core) only when you are ready to eat them, as adding moisture by washing will cause them to grow mould. After washing, gently dry with paper towel to remove excess moisture.

How to Freeze Fresh Strawberries

Don’t worry if you over-picked your strawberries! They can be easily frozen to enjoy in milkshakes, smoothies or over ice cream. The trick to freezing strawberries is to do this before they have started to spoil.
1. First, remove any mouldy or soft berries. Next, hull, wash and carefully dry your berries. Since they will be soft after thawing, you’ll want to ensure you chop them to your preferred size before you freeze.
2. Once you have prepared your berries, lay them out on a cookie sheet with a layer of parchment beneath, without touching. Freezing them separately is important, otherwise, they will freeze together in a hard lump that will be too difficult to use.
3. After the berries have fully frozen, transfer them from the cookie sheet to freezer bags and squeeze out all the air before sealing. If prepared well, berries should last 6 months in the freezer, and are ideal to add to your morning smoothie recipe.

Our Favourite Fresh Strawberry Recipes

Strawberries are best enjoyed in classic recipes, such as strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry shortcake, jam, and of course, sliced and topped with whipping cream. Strawberry Pie can also be made ahead and frozen to enjoy later.

Celebrating the harvest with strawberry picking and strawberry festivals is a tradition that comes from Ontario’s agricultural heritage. It wasn’t that long ago that harvesting the berries and preserving them for the rest of the year was a very important task, as it meant the sweet taste could be enjoyed for later. Now that strawberries can be imported from other parts of the world, this important piece of Ontario history needs to be preserved. Plan to make strawberries part of your own family’s summer traditions and make memories to cherish out of this short and sweet growing season.

Gluten Free Banana and Raspberry Bread

This healthy and Gluten Free Banana and Raspberry Bread is the perfect summer brunch treat! Made with whole grains, almonds, and entirely fruit sweetened, and then flecked with summer raspberries and dark chocolate chips.

Gluten free banana bread with raspberries and dark chocolate chips cut into thick slices.

This recipe was submitted by Michelle at Sunkissed Kitchen, a partner of Barrie Hill Farms.

Brunch-worthy Raspberry Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Who doesn’t love a good banana bread? This banana bread takes it to the next level with the addition of fresh raspberries, and dark chocolate chips.

Not only is this banana bread “next level,” it’s also good for you! This healthy gluten free banana and raspberry bread is made with whole oats and almond flour, and is entirely fruit sweetened. Not a drop of refined sugar, or even honey.

A bowl of banana bread batter with raspberries and dark chocolate chips.

Healthy Gluten Free Banana and Raspberry Bread

Making a loaf of this delicious bread out of whole ingredients couldn’t be easier.

I always start this bread out by grinding whole oats into an oat flour. Buying the store milled oat flour is too fine and the bread loses some of it’s wonderfully hearty texture.

When making sugar free desserts, make sure you’re using high quality fruit. There’s no sugar being added to this healthy banana bread, so your bananas need to be ripe and spotty, and your berries need to be of good quality. I buy organic raspberries – they are one of the “dirty dozen.” They might not always show up on the list, but they are one of the most heavily pesticide doused produce items.

I like using big, sweet medjool dates when sweetening a quick bread or cake recipe, but using other date varieties is fine. Make sure your dates are fresh and soft so they blend up well into the banana bread batter.

Tips for Banana Raspberry Bread

  • Make it Gluten Free: If you need this recipe to be gluten free, be sure to buy certified gluten free oats.
  • Make it Ahead: This loaf freezes beautifully. Be sure to wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and then seal in a freezer ziplock bag. Allow to defrost on the counter when ready to serve.

Banana and Raspberry Bread

This healthy gluten free loaf is the perfect banana bread -- lightly fruit sweetened, and studded with summer raspberries and dark chocolate chips. The perfect healthy banana bread for all occasions.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banana bread, gluten free bread, healthy banana bread
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 279kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond milk unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil virgin
  • 5-6 medjool dates 3 ounces, pitted
  • 3 bananas ripe (12 ounces peeled)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oats gluten free, if necessary
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips plus more for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Add oats to a blender, and process to form a fine flour. I find that store bought oat flour is too fine and gives breads a slighly sandy texture, so I recommend grinding your own for this recipe. Set oat flour aside and rinse blender.
  • Add almond milk and dates to the blender. Warm coconut oil until its liquid and slightly warm. Warming it ensures it doesn't solidify when mixed with the cold ingredients.
  • Process the dates, milk and oil until it becomes a very smooth paste. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add bananas and mash with a fork. Leave some texture to the bananas. Since this recipe is fruit sweetened, it's very important to use ripe and sweet bananas.
  • Add the eggs, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt, along with the date paste, to the bowl with the bananas, and stir to combine.
  • Add the oat flour and almond flour, and stir just until there is no more dry flour.
  • Add the raspberries and dark chocolate chips, and gently fold into the batter.
  • Line and loaf pan (8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2) with baking paper, and add batter to the pan. Sprinkle additional oats and chocolate chips on top, if desired.
  • Bake for 50 minutes-1 hour, until the center of the loaf is set. Allow to cool before slicing.
  • This bread is delicious served warm or cold. Store sealed tight in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 208mg | Potassium: 412mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 7.8mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

A loaf of raspberry dark chocolate banana bread.

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Recipe courtesy of Sunkissed Kitchen,  A partner with Barrie Hill Farms in bringing fresh recipes to your table.

 

More Raspberry Recipes from Barrie Hill Farms

Raspberry and Peach Wine Spritzer Recipe

Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa

 

When are Raspberries Available at Barrie Hills Farm?A calendar showing when crops are available at Barrie Hills Farm.