Will Travel for Strawberries

Jun 4, 2021

June is here and that means strawberries are in season. The budding fruits are sunning and ripening this very minute while I type… I can smell them in the air.

There’s much to celebrate in a month where sweaters retire, grills fire, and daylight stretches out. The summer solstice is nigh, pushing back bedtimes and extending lawn parties, and for this, we owe June much appreciation. But perhaps what I’m most grateful for is that bright and succulent red berry that pops up this time of year. Earth’s sweet and sour candy grown straight from the ground. Juicy, aromatic, misshapen, and with the slightest crunch from the tiny seeds adorning its flesh.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for just about any fruit. After all, the word fruit comes from the Latin root “frui” which means “to enjoy,” which is precisely what I do- enjoy the fresh, warm-weathered fruits all summer long. But strawberries are by far my favorite. (It may or may not have something to do with me being born in the ’80s and the handfuls of sweet-smelling Strawberry Shortcake items I possessed) But no matter the reason, I go silly for a strawberry in season, sunned and freshly picked.

Earth’s sweet and sour candy grown straight from the ground. Juicy, aromatic, misshapen, and with the slightest crunch…

Mmmmmm…It’s enough to make you go traveling for punnet-fulls. And that’s just what we’re going to do! This month on the blog, I’ll be scouting for out-of-state strawberries, picking local ones in Ohio, using my bounty in new recipes, and of course, sharing a very fruity playlist to jam to while traveling. I’d say June should turn out to be a very sweet month indeed!

In this post, we’ll cover four big strawberry-producing states and the farms from which to pick. Plus, we’ll find some delicious strawberry desserts to enjoy along the way.

A special note: Make sure to reach out to the farms before planning a trip out, in case the strawberries are in short supply!


Where To Pick:

Swanton Berry Farm is one hour south of San Francisco and runs along California’s Highway 1 and Pacific coastline. To say it’s an idyllic location is obvious, but there’s so much to love about this farm. They were the first in California to grow certified organic strawberries, which is no easy feat. They also were the first organic farm in America to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers. And then there are the strawberries which people rave over. After picking, grab a Hot Strawberry Apple Cider from The Farmstand and peruse their homemade jams and baked goods, like the Strawberry Truffle, Strawberry Pecan Scone, and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

Gizdich Ranch is a 4th generation family-owned operation one hour outside of the dreamy town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and not far from San Francisco. After working up an appetite picking strawberries, grab lunch from their Pie Shop & Deli and picnic with a view of those sunny California hills. For a strawberry-themed dessert, you have a choice of Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Strawberry Sundaes, Strawberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Shortcake, and Strawberry Tarts…phew! Note: Strawberry U-pick open only Saturdays due to short supply.

Carlsbad Strawberry Company rests along the coastline between Los Angeles and San Diego, steps away from the Pacific. The salty air lends itself to some tasty strawberries you can pick until July, depending on the weather. Be sure to check out their Sunflower Maze, as well.

California’s Strawberry Treats:

Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream from BiRite. This specialty grocer in San Francisco is famous for its hand-churned seasonal ice cream. In our search for everything strawberry, BiRite offers a delicious Balsamic Strawberry flavor made with “bright, juicy organic strawberries roasted with Bi-Rite Balsamic Vinegar.”

The Strawberry Donut by The Donut Man. This thing has legendary status. Soft glaze donuts are sliced open and stuffed with fresh local strawberries in a sweet glaze. This giant treat should have its own street address and requires a nap afterward, but it’s worth it!

“California Strawberry” French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches by The MILK Shop. It’s like a macaron and an ice cream sandwich made a baby. This quirky ice cream shop also serves up Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars, an elevated version of the kind you ate as a kid.


Where To Pick:

Thompson Strawberry Farm describes itself as “Southeastern Wisconsin’s premier agritainment destination.” And with a location flanked by Chicago, Milwaukee, and Lake Michigan, it makes for a delicious strawberry oasis among city dwellers. The fields open in June and last till the fourth of July.

Bonus: By the end of strawberry season, there’s a field full of sunflowers ready for picking as well. And any place that grows both strawberries and sunflowers is a happy place indeed!

Basse’s Taste of Country is a farm just north of Milwaukee with a mission to “create farm family fun.” After picking strawberries, visit the Lemonade Wagon for fresh-squeezed lemonade. Or grab a strawberry sundae, slush, or shake in their store.

Wisconsin’s Strawberry Treats:

Strawberry Popsicles from Pete’s Pops. Pete serves up unique and refreshing popsicles in the Milwaukee area. There is a storefront in the city, but it’s also common to find one of their carts at a farmer’s market, wedding, concert, etc. They serve up quite the variety of strawberry-flavored ice pops- Straight Strawberry, Strawberry Basil, Strawnana Smoothie, and Strawberry Rhubarb. Although, you might have to sneak one of their unique non-strawberry flavors such as Sweet Corn & Blackberry Swirl, Roasted Peach N’ Jalapeno, or Pear Goat Cheese.  

Strawberry Nutella Ice Cream from the Purple Door. This ice cream shop in Milwaukee uses fresh cream and milk that comes from local Wisconsin dairy farms. Other strawberry flavors include Strawberry Kiwi, Strawberry Sour Cream, Strawberry Chocolate Chip, Strawberry Shortcake, and Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet.

Strawberry Shortcake at Elsa’s on the Park. This trendy restaurant in Milwaukee specializes in delicious drinks, burgers, and desserts. All their dishes look scrumptious, but it’s the Strawberry Shortcake that has people talking. For something on the lighter side, they offer a bowl of ripe strawberries with whipped cream.

North Carolina

Where To Pick:

Carrigan Farms is a five-generation farm less than an hour from Charlotte. What attracts folks from both near and far is the natural beauty of the space. Alongside the fruitful farm rests a quarry with a deep natural body of water, surrounded by pine and stone, which the farm opens up as a good old-fashioned swimming hole. Sadly, strawberry picking concluded with May. However, you can still book a time for an “open swim” at the quarry with a restaurant serving farm-fresh burgers, pizzas, and salads, along with ice cream and snow cones.

Obermiller’s Strawberry Farm is enjoying their last week(s) of strawberry picking, with a majority of their strawberries picked in May, as well. However, they also sell local honey, Water Buffalo Milk Gelato (yum!), and heirloom tomato plants.

North Carolina’s Strawberry Treats:

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshakes from Ninety’s. If you’re looking for that Instagrammable dessert, you’ve found one here. From the dressed-up milkshakes to the stacked donut, macaron, or brownie ice cream sandwiches, the desserts here are over-the-top in the best of ways.

Strawberry Doughnuts from Pepperbox Doughnuts. With bits of genuine berries in the frosting, this doughnut looks both beautiful and fresh, as do all their chef-inspired creations, each made by hand.

Strawberry Chiffon French Macarons from Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe. To visit one of Amelie’s shops is a delightful experience. You’ll want to stay awhile in their cafe, described as “an unusual blend of whimsy and sophistication.” Start with a soup, salad, or sandwich along with some coffee or tea before heading straight into the pastries.


Where To Pick:

Columbia Farms sits on the charming Sauvie Island, where the soil is rich and conducive to an abundant and healthy agriculture. Right now, the farm is serving up both peonies and strawberries, a match made in June heaven. Further into the summer, they’ll have blueberries, marionberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, and black raspberries to pick as well.

Topaz Farm, also on Sauvie Island, is a busy place. They offer U-pick strawberry days depending on their supply, which they announce on their website. Strawberries aside, the fruits, veg, and flowers grown here will make their way to “Family Style Farm-to-Plate” dinners the farm hosts between June and September. Paella, Moroccan, and Ethiopian are some of the themes. And if you visit, be sure to grab some lunch here as well. Their website instructs, “Come hungry and thirsty!” and they aren’t kidding around. They have picnic boxes, beautifully layered sandwiches, roasted corn with smoked poblano and lime butter…And they put those strawberries to good use in their Old Fashioned Strawberry Donuts, strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream and pops, and a refreshing strawberry-rhubarb lemonade.

Oregon’s Strawberry Treats:

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes from Saint Cupcake the Bakery. This one is for chocolate lovers- the actual cupcake is chocolate, but with a “with strawberry Swiss buttercream drizzled with hot fudge.”

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries. Everything here is gluten-free and vegan, yet delivers in yumminess all the same.

Strawberry & Coconut Water Sherbet from Salt & Straw. A lot of people make good ice cream. What sets these guys apart is their mission to do more. They say, “We make ice cream that’s about more than ice cream.” Community, responsible sourcing, hospitality…it’s all as sweet as what they’re churning.

Tips on Picking Strawberries

  • Call ahead! Make sure the fields are open for picking before heading out. Strawberry patches can get cleared out pretty quickly and will take several days for more strawberries to ripen.
  • The earlier the better. Prime time for pickin’ is early in the morning before all the ripe strawberries are gone.
  • Dress appropriately. You’ll be crouched down on the dirt as you pick. Not only do you want to be comfortable, but you also want to wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Choose well. You only want to pick the bright red berries with depressed seeds that aren’t on top of each other. Look out for rot or bug damage before picking.
  • Store to last. Once you’re home, you’ll want to store your strawberries the right way, so they’ll last as long as possible. Don’t wash until you’re ready to eat. Instead, make sure they are dry before storing them in the fridge. Note: The best place in the fridge for strawberries is the crisper drawer with high humidity, so they don’t dry out.
  • Freeze leftover berries. Let’s say somehow, someway, you’re strawberried out. The good news is strawberries last 6-8 months when frozen. Just wash and dry thoroughly, remove the tops, and lay them out on a tray, single layer in the freezer. Once frozen, bag them up…simple as that.

Whether you travel near or far, I hope you get to enjoy some local strawberries this month. The hands that tend to these luscious berries work very hard. Once you pick your own, you realize how laborious it is.

To the farmers and workers, we thank you!

Next stop: Troy, Ohio

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