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Local Strawberries

What is up this year? Okay, I know I'm being impatient, but I'm ready for some GOOD local strawberries. No, not just good looking, but the wonderfully soft, sweet, so juicy they make a mess of your hands / face / shirt when you pull out the stem.
I happened to be at the Ladner Market on Sunday and saw some from a local farm in Richmond. They looked under-ripe so I didn't bite. But, on my way home from work yesterday, I stopped at Birak Berry Farms on Number 6 Road and the berries looked delicious. I bought a flat and am disappointed. These berries are just a "red" version of the tasteless Californians. Or almost anyways. Is it just because I was impatient or are they a different variety that ships better? I came across the same berries at my local Yellow Hell (Buy Low) from Krause farms - pretty, red, and hard and nearly tasteless. What is UP?? Please tell me it's just because of the crappy weather and because I can't wait. It will be a sad season indeed if this is the best we can get here.
Can anyone shed any light?

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  1. It has been cool, but let's face it, strawberries don't typically reach their peak until late June/early July. And I happen to prefer the berries that ripen in mid-summer after we've had a patch of heat. They tend to be the juiciest, ripest, and most delicious. A month from now you should have the berries you prize (unless we get a repeat of last year's July).

    1 Reply
    1. re: anewton

      I'm not getting my hopes up, it's looking like being ANOTHER soggy no-sun June (same as last year) which means lousy strawberries.

    2. Agree with anewton, that is when we get ours for making a dinner of only strawberry shortcake, then several flats for frozen topping to enjoy in the winter months! I felt the OP's pain though, having kickstarted the local berry jones in Pdx last month where they were enjoying their first run at the farmers' market and on the plates in many restaurants. Can't wait!

      1 Reply
      1. re: grayelf

        Saw some very ripe looking units on sale @ a local greengrocer on Davie St yesterday afternoon.

        But Yes more and more local operations are going for the potato sized/textured cultivars that are grown elsewhere making finding something worthwhile all the more difficult.

      2. I've seen local strawberries being sold at Donald's Market and on Commercial Drive at some other produce market. Does anyone know if they are pesticide-free?

        1 Reply
        1. re: 1newyorkguy

          If they don't say pesticide-free, they're almost certainly not pesticide free. Strawberries are typically sprayed, and because they are soft and porous you cannot wash all of the pesticide off. Better to go with certified organic strawberries from a trusted source (i.e. a farmer's market).

        2. As others have stated, it just isn't quite the season yet. Strawberries really need a few days of uninterrupted heat in order to truly shine. The weather has been all over the places lately and that's exactly what those little red suckers hate most.

          1. In today's Vancouver Sun there's an entire page (in the Food section) devoted to local berries, including farms with picking times and phone numbers. Worth checking out if you're a devotee of the delectable local strawberries.....

            1. saw some today in our local IGA (which i like overall) for 10 dollars (ten) for about 1.5 liters of heritage looking berries --- could be immature early ones or genuinely heritage (ie not the steroid berries)

              that said - i know that IGA in BC (it's a different parent company in other provinces as far as i understand) is very good about purchasing local product - produce and beyond --- so this sighting could have been local to our little IGA only.

              1. The first berries I bought at the farmers' market were disappointing but since then I've found beautiful berries - red all the way through, soft, juicy and lots of flavour.

                I'm guessing it is different cultivars.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Anne M

                  Hey Anne: Where did you get the good ones?

                  Thanks
                  Phil

                  1. re: Philx

                    It was a farmstand at the Granville Island market. Sorry I don't remember which farm it was.

                    1. re: Anne M

                      Speaking of GIM I saw the same potatoes-disguised-as-strawbs on sale today.

                    2. re: Philx

                      Basically you just have to do the circuit of the produce vendors. The local strawbs change from day to day so yesterdays beauts might be tomorrows semi ripes.
                      I bought some pretty nice ones from the guys across from the seafood counter (as you enter the market) on Sunday. Everyone else's were pretty dodgy. (Sam is whinging about the Cali Strawbs which are showy but boring.)

                      It's pretty obvious which ones are nice -so, like I said, just do the circuit and maybe beg a taste if you're not sure. More sun is going to do wonders for the poor things no doubt about that.

                      At this rate though it'll be one of those summers where all the berries are ripe at the same time....

                      1. re: eatrustic

                        I read the write up in the Sun that Quattrociocchi recommended and came across this:

                        Early season and everbearing varieties that are available this week tend to be red and firm. Look for Puget Reliance and the large fruit of Tillamook.

                        Mid-season varieties such as Totem and Hood are the super-juicy, red-to-the-core strawberries that imprint themselves permanently in your memory.

                        I think that solves my puzzle. These firm not so sweet berries are a result of a different variety AND not enough sun. More patience is required from me. Can't wait for the super-juicy, sweet, red to the core berries to appear!

                        Thanks for chiming in!

                  2. The farm stand on the NE corner of 16th @ Blenheim is open again and selling local strawberries this evening. 4 different varieties (Rainier, Valley Red, and ???)

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: islandgirl

                      Thanks for the reminder, islandgirl. I heart that stand, especially when it turns to corn later in the season. You didn't happen to notice the price, didja?

                      1. re: grayelf

                        When I was by there last week, It was $8 for a large basket.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          I paid $15 for two large baskets (about 4 lbs total) of Rainier.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Last night they had Okanagan cherries and local raspberries in addition to the Rainer strawberries from Langley. All seemed to be $4/lb
                            They also had a nice option where you could mix & match (cherries, raspberries and strawberries) 3 X 1lb for $10 which was nice.

                            1. re: islandgirl

                              They have local strawberries at Persia Foods at 2827 w broadway (Macdonald and Broadway). I think they are $2.49/lb.

                              1. re: quddous

                                Good price -- I may grab a pound more tomorrow for the leftover shortcake :-).

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Alas, Persia's berries not salutary at all, even for the price...

                              2. re: islandgirl

                                Thanks again islandgirl, picked up a 15-lb flat today for $40 which has now been broken down into freezer jam and a fresh shortcake feed :-). The berries there were from Emma Lea Farms in Ladner which has been around for yonks: http://www.emmaleafarms.com/?q=node/49. Good flavour and consistent ripeness, not super sweet, less than 3% waste from decay (bought this am, processed this evening). I also like that they come in recyclable cardboard rather than clamshells etc.

                            2. re: islandgirl

                              What time is the farm stand at 16th/Blenheim usually open? I tried going by today but didn't see any stands.

                              1. re: twinkienic

                                I wonder if it is only there on the weekends? I've never tried going during the week...