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In Search of "Old School" Strawberries (...and I don't mean those Frankenberry Monsters)

Hi all, I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest and loved the small, densely flavor-packed berries that grew aplenty on the Kitsap Peninsula. Fast forward to current times and I've now lived in San Diego for 15 years - and still haven't found anything close! When I see those gigantic monster strawberries with the bitter, white cores that take up the entire inside, I want to scream, wail and gnash my teeth (well, I've grown weary of that now, but I still feel sad that it's come to this). I currently live near SDSU, but work near UTC. Does anyone know of a good strawberry source? Of course I'd prefer organic, but knowing me, I won't be able to resist any truly good strawberry....and failing that, how can I make the "normal" ones taste better? Liqueur? Any suggestions will be appreciated - I'm planning on making Strawberry Shortcake this weekend.

Cheers!

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  1. You gotta hit the farmer's markets. Personally, I go to the Hillcrest Farmer's Market on Sundays, but the Little Italy Mercato is just as good. San Diego (actually Carlsbad and Oceanside) grow quite a lot of conventionally-grown strawberries. The reason they're substandard is because the berries are picked before they're ripe for shipping across the country. Strawberries picked for the farmer's markets are meant to be sold right away, so even the conventionally-grown strawberries are picked the day before and taste a lot better. For older-school (heirloom?) strawberries that are grown organically, look for Suzie's Farm or Sage Mountain Farms in particular.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmtreg

      Thanks for the specific farm names. I must admit, I've been putting off several farmers markets because parking is such an issue. It might be worth it to turn up just prior to opening.

    2. Take a drive up to Chino Farms on the weekend. They have a couple of varieties that are grown organically. The tiny little french strawberries cost more but they are red and sweet as candy throughout.

      5 Replies
      1. re: foodiechick

        Thanks for the suggestion. I've read about Chino farms and I've been meaning to look them up for other items as well. Sounds like a good weekend destination...

        1. re: foodiechick

          I'm with FC on this topic -- BEST strawberries I've EVER had were the French strawbs I picked up last summer (multiple times) at Chino Farms. While you're there, grab a dozen ears of the BEST corn you'll ever eat too. None better.

          1. re: bizzwriter

            I was at Chino today. No French strawberries, but their standard ones are outstanding. Not a huge quantity available, though.

            1. re: Divamac

              How much do they cost at Chino Farms?

              1. re: pantani

                If you have to ask, you can't afford them.

        2. Have you tried Lisko Deli? They have a small amount of produce - not sure if they get Strawberries, but tend to have organic, local produce.

          Grower's Direct on University in La Mesa (just East of 70th Street) might be a good place to check as well.

          I never had problems parking at the La Mesa Farmers Market, but haven't been to the new location.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JRSD

            Just read the Yelp reviews on both places and plan on giving each a visit. Thanks so much!

          2. I've had good luck with Williamson Produce just off the 78 (Jefferson St Exit), Ivy Road, in Oceanside. They have small berries as well as long stem and larger varities. They only pick their berries when they're ripe, no white tastless centers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cstr

              Thanks for this. I am going to bookmark the place for when I have time to make the drive. I really prefer going straight to the source and knowing they are a "sure thing" has my mouth watering!

            2. Recently had sublime, organic strawberries (big ones, not fraise des bois) from a vendor at Tues Pacific Beach Farmer's Mkt. Bet you can find them at any farmer's market but sometimes you must ask if organic and to taste.