June to me means the start of strawberry season and I am here for it! Strawberry season in British Columbia and Washington means that spring is here and summer is just around the corner. I put together this guide to strawberries to provide some details for picking strawberries, tips for how to keep strawberries fresh and the best way to choose strawberries when you are picking. Read all to learn more about all things strawberries.
Who Else Loves Strawberry Season?
Now that we are getting into the hot summer months, you’ve probably noticed a rise in the desire to eat all the fruit, which is fantastic! We love a healthy, happy, you! There are so many delicious fruits that peak in the summertime, but by far the most popular fruit is strawberries. Why? Other than their perfectly plump appearance and juicy inside, strawberries are a universal fruit that make a delicious dessert topping or addition to a wide variety of savory dishes. They’re also packed with nutrients that keep your skin glowing, mind sharp, and body hydrated!
Now that we’ve convinced you that strawberries are the optimal summer fruit, let’s talk about everything you need to know in order to harvest your strawberries, including what kind of strawberries exist, which ones are local to the BC and WA area, and some fun facts about strawberries that we know you’re going to love! Did you expect to be learning a few fun things in this guide to strawberries?
What Types of Strawberries are There in British Columbia and Washington?
Strawberries are quite a fun little fruit that make a fantastic addition to nearly any diet, but did you know there are actually multiple kinds of strawberries? Let’s talk about the ones most popular in the BC and WA area.
Benton strawberries are a softer variety, known for their sweet flavor and varus resistance capabilities. They make a great addition to your dessert dishes and are a little smaller in size. They tend to yield in late summer-around July.
Making its debut in late summer as well, the Puget summer strawberry is sturdier, making it a great choice for freezing or slicing to place atop your favorite morning breakfast. They are sweet in flavor, but less juicy than other varieties.
The hood strawberry yields all summer long and is ideal for making preserves or jams. They make a lovely addition to smoothies when added fresh. They are softer and juicier in nature.
Known for its soft texture, juicy interior, and fresh flavor, Quinalt strawberries are primarily grown in the BC area. They are sweet and make excellent add-ons to your summer salads or sweet fruit tarts!
This strawberry is sweet but subtle, has a firm texture, and will withstand the summer heat when you’re outdoors or even being baked in an oven for a unique dessert!
Fun Strawberry Facts
Before we get into the nitty gritty details of our guide to strawberries, we have to talk about some fun strawberry facts that you will be thankful you learned!
- They increase good cholesterol (keeping your heart healthy) and are filled with healthy sugars for energy as well as fiber to keep you feeling full.
- Strawberries were used by the ancient romans as a natural remedy for a variety of illnesses including sore throats, depression, and even fevers.
- An average sized strawberry has over 200 seeds, most of which are in layers inside the strawberry and not just on the outer surface area you see.
- Strawberry plants are perennial, meaning you only need to plant one, to yield them year after year.
- In case you were curious, there is actually a strawberry museum in Belgium! The museum talks of the varying types of berries, where they were originally discovered, and well numerous strawberry products in their gift shop.
- Strawberries are actually known to be a natural aphrodisiac, particularly in France where the tradition is to serve newly weds a cold, strawberry soup!
If you are enjoying this guide to strawberries, you might also like this guide to cherry season in British Columbia and Washington, too.
Are Strawberries a Berry or Fruit?
So, let’s talk about what makes a berry, a berry and what makes a fruit, a fruit. The definition of a berry is a simple fruit with a heavy flesh that contains numerous berries throughout it. The berries are on the inside of the fruit and there can be any number of seeds! Fruits, by definition, are the ripened ovary of a plant that has flowered. The outer layer protecting the seeds of the fruit.
So, with that in mind, strawberries are not technically a berry. Contrary to their name, this heart shaped delight is a separate fruit all by itself! The reason for this is that berries, by definition, are supposed to have their seeds on the inside like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Since strawberries have their seeds on the outside, they are not exactly a “berry”. However, also by definition, strawberries are not exactly a fruit either! This is solely because fruits are supposed to have their seeds on the outside, protecting them with a strong outer layer.
Since we know that strawberries have their seeds on the outside, we no know that this means they aren’t technically a fruit, but they’re also not a berry since their seeds are on the outside! So…what does this mean? Strawberries are a separate class all on their own? You decide.
When is Strawberry Picking Season in British Columbia?
Now that you know the kinds of strawberries that exist, it would probably be beneficial for you to understand when strawberry season is in the British Columbia (and Washington) area so that you can harvest strawberries during the time of year that strawberries are in season! Luckily, our guide to strawberries will prepare you for just that time!
Pending your specific areas climate, strawberries will come to fruition a little differently and in slightly varied times. For the BC and WA area, most strawberries will be ready for picking between June and late August, some varieties may make their appearance into the fall as well. Depending on the kind of strawberries you’re looking for, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the time that you’re going to go harvesting strawberries.
How do you Pick the Perfect Strawberry?
Now that you know the time of year strawberries are in season, let’s discuss the best way to choose strawberries as well as a few tips for picking strawberries properly.
Choosing strawberries comes down to a few key factors:
- Desire for use
- Juice preference
- Sweetness preference
A guide to strawberries wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t discuss these factors in detail so let’s get into it!
The size of the strawberry simply comes down to preference. When you go out harvesting strawberries in the wild (or from strawberry farms), you are much more likely to come across small strawberries than the large ones you are used to seeing in the grocery store. The type of strawberry will determine its average size, but so will the time of year you go and pick it. If you’re going at the very beginning on strawberry season, you are more likely to get small strawberries simply because they have just started to come to fruition. We recommend waiting a few weeks and giving the strawberries a chance to reach their full-grown size potential.
Desire for Use
Regardless of when you are picking strawberries during strawberry season, you have to consider the reason you are wanting the strawberries. Some strawberries are better for turning into jams, others are best for freezing, and some are the most delicious when eaten right then and there! You’ll have to consider you reasoning for going strawberry picking before you go and pluck them from their vine.
The kind of strawberry you choose will depend on the amount of juice you are looking for and the goal you have for the strawberries. If you’re looking for a strawberry to turn into a jam, you’re better off going with a strawberry variety with a high juice yield. However, if you’re looking for a strawberry for the purpose of topping salads or sitting atop a cheesecake or fruit tart, you’ll likely want to go with a variety that isn’t dripping juice!
This also comes down to your reason for harvesting strawberries. Whereas as most people would prefer a sweeter strawberry, if you’re adding them to a salad or topping an already sweet dessert, you may want to go with a strawberry known for a sourer taste.
Essentially, the best way to choose strawberries comes down to what you’re looking for. There’s no guarantee you will get exactly what you’re searching for each time, but if you keep this guide to strawberries in mind, you’re sure to find the best strawberries during strawberry season!
How to Choose the Juiciest Strawberries
Whether you’re going strawberry picking at the grocery store or out in the field, there are a few key tips for picking strawberries that will ensure you pick the juiciest ones every time!
- Size of the strawberry. The larger the strawberry, the more likely you are to experience that wonderful sensation of biting into a strawberry for the first time and feeling that juice splatter on your tongue on a hot summer day!
- Variety of strawberry. Some varieties of strawberries simply are not genetically made to be all that juicy. Be sure you are harvesting the right kind of strawberry before making your purchase or getting your hands dirty!
- Color of the strawberry. The deeper the red of the strawberry, the more likely it is to be filled with juice. Essentially, the riper the strawberry, the more juice will emerge. This is often more important than any other factor!
- Go strawberry picking at the peak of ripeness! Before you go picking strawberries, be sure you are going strawberry picking during the time of year strawberries are in season. This also applies to your ability to keep strawberries fresh. You’ll want to pick your berries no more than a week or so after they have begun to ripen in order to avoid a dry, bland strawberry.
How do you Store Strawberries?
Here’s the deal, strawberries are a fragile little fruit. They need to be cared for and stored properly which is why our guide to strawberries has a whole section dedicated to how to store strawberries to keep strawberries fresh.
Storing strawberries comes down to two main pieces of information:
- When you purchased them
- What you plan to use them for
Let’s break those things down a little bit more. If you picked your strawberries straight from the field, and they are that deep red color that we discussed earlier in our tips for picking strawberries section, you will likely not have them as long in our fridge. This is purely because fresh-from-the-field strawberries tend to be preservative free, and you never quite know when they came to ripen.
Strawberry Storage Checklist
The best way to store strawberries from the field is with the following little checklist:
- Gently rinse of your strawberries before doing anything else! If you have it, use a produce wash. If you do not, that’s okay! You can use a teaspoon of dish soap, a drop of white vinegar, and a sink-full of lukewarm water to clear off your strawberries.
- Gently pat them dry to avoid contracting any viruses or mold.
- Pending your reason for wanting to keep strawberries fresh, you’ll either chop up your strawberries into chunks, slices, or leave them whole. There is an abundance of evidence that chopping up your strawberries keeps them fresh longer, but if that’s not what you’re going for, you can continue with the following steps.
- If you want to keep your strawberries whole, then your best bet is store them in an airtight container in the fridge. However, if you plan to use them in smoothies or eat them later in the year after strawberry season has ended, you’ll want to freeze them!
The best way to store strawberries comes down to a number of factors, but at the very least you should be cleaning them and storing them in airtight containers if you want them to last more than a few days!
Can You Ripen Strawberries After Picking?
To put it bluntly, no. You cannot ripen strawberries after you have picked them. No number of tips for picking strawberries can help you here. However, we want you to understand why.
Something many people get confused is a strawberry ripening more after being picked and a strawberry going bad after being picked. Like most fruits, the moment you pick it off its life source (vine), it starts to “go bad”. However, you won’t notice until it starts to show the common signs including:
- Shrinking in size
- Becoming excessively squishy or losing its shape
- Leaking an unnatural amount of juice
- Becoming moldy
How to Pick Strawberries Without Damaging the Plant
Picking strawberries during strawberry season is a fantastic option when you want something to do during a warm summer afternoon!
Keeping in mind the best way to choose strawberries, you now have to consider how to harvest strawberries without causing damage to the strawberry and the existing plant as a whole. As previously mentioned in our fun facts, strawberries are a perennial plant. So, if you damage the plant, you have to plan a new one otherwise the plant cannot regrow its delicious fruits year after year!
There is a few tips and tricks to keep in mind before you go yanking those delicate strawberries off of their vine!
- Hold the branch/vine that the stem is attached to with your pincher fingers and then pull the strawberry off from the top. This prevents damage to the plant as a whole. What you don’t want to do is see the stem bending and twisting, this will make it much more difficult for the plant to grow new strawberries during a future strawberry season.
- Be gentle. Strawberries are fragile so you need a gentle hand when separating them from their branch/vine. If the plant isn’t willing to give up the strawberry yet, don’t force it. Choose a new one!
- Luckily, keeping the leaves/stem attached to the top does not make too much of a difference when it comes to keeping strawberries fresh, but you should still try to preserve the quality of the strawberry upon picking it.
Can You Eat Strawberries While You are Picking Them?
In short, yes. You absolutely can absolutely eat as you pick, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so.
Whereas those fresh, juicy strawberries may look scrumptious, they are also wild-grown, harvested strawberries. They have no been washed, numerous bugs have landed on them, they have been growing in the soil, etc. You do not know what germs or viruses may be holding up on the exterior of the strawberry, so we don’t recommend you eat them before you take them home and wash them off.
Something else to consider is if you are picking strawberries from a farm where you have to show them what you picked and pay to take them home, it simply wouldn’t be morally right to eat some strawberries as you go along. You would essentially be stealing and that’s not what strawberry season is all about!
How do You Clean Strawberries?
Regardless of whether you are purchasing your strawberries from the grocery store or you picked them yourself from the field, you’re going to have to clean off your strawberries before you consume them. Our guide to strawberries will explain the perfect way to do so without damaging your strawberries!
Follow these steps to clean strawberries:
- Fill a large bowl, container, or your cleaned sink with luke-warm water.
- Add the recommended amount of produce wash to your water (the container your produce wash comes in will tell you the amount)
- If you do not have produce wash, add a teaspoon of natural, chemical free dish soap and a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the water instead. This is just as effective and can be easier to get ahold of.
- Lightly stir those together with your hand – you do not need to see any bubbles!
- Gently place your strawberries into the mixture and let them soak for up to 5 minutes.
- Give each strawberry a gentle toss or shake in the water to release any dirt.
- Remove the strawberries from the container (or drain your sink).
- Turn on your sink to luke-warm and gentle wipe off your strawberries under the water to remove any left-over produce wash, vinegar, or soap that you of course do not want to eat. This will also remove any leftover, stubborn dirt, and germs!
- Place your strawberries on a towel and pat them dry.
- Decide how you want to store them and you’re good to go!
How Long do Strawberries Last After They’ve Been Picked?
There is no simple answer to this question because the answer varies by a number of factors including:
- The size of the strawberry – smaller ones go bad faster.
- When the strawberry was picked – Make sure you’re picking during the peak of strawberry season!
- How ripe the strawberry was when it was picked – You can tell its ripeness by the color, texture, and smell.
- If the strawberry was damaged when it was picked – be gentle with your fruit.
- How you are storing the strawberries – see above for details on how to store strawberries effectively.
What this guide to strawberries can tell you is that if you keep your strawberries whole, they usually do not last more than 5 days, especially if they are picked fresh from the field and free of preservative coatings. This rule also applies to strawberries you bought in the grocery store.
How to Keep Strawberries Fresh Longer
Keeping your strawberries fresh is a tough goal to reach simply because strawberries are a water-based fruit that attract viruses and mold (like most “berries”). However, there are a few methods that have shown to help keep strawberries fresher for a longer period of time!
Tips to Keep Strawberries Fresh:
- Make sure you are going strawberry picking during the peak of strawberry season! Our guide to strawberries wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t reiterate the importance of picking your strawberries at the right time of year! The longer you wait to pick your strawberries, the faster they will go bad.
- Chop them up! Strawberries are a finicky fruit. They stay fresh the longest when they are cut up into little cubes or pieces, kind of like you would if you were getting ready to turn them into a jam.
- Put lemon juice on them! Similar to an apple in this way, strawberries keep longer after they have been lightly coated in something acidic, such as lemon juice. The acidity of the lemon juice helps fight off any unwanted outside invaders and keeps your strawberries fresh.
- Store strawberries in an airtight container. If you’re looking for your strawberries to last more than a few days, you’ll have to store them in an airtight container. Whereas normally you could get away with putting them in a bowl and covering it with plastic wrap, this method only works if you’re going to consume or cook the strawberries in a max of 3 days.
- Freeze them! Place your strawberries in an airtight container or reusable storage bag and toss those delicious treats into the freezer. You’ll have them as long as you want them now and they’ll freeze at the stage of life you picked them!
Tips for Freezing Strawberries
Whether you’re planning to use your fresh strawberries in a smoothie or storing them to munch on year-round, there is a right way to go about freezing your strawberries to ensure their quality remains intact! No guide to strawberries would be complete without this!
There’s nothing worse than being excited to munch on some fruit from the freezer only to discover it is freezer burnt! Thankfully, this can be avoided and fairly easily too! Follow these steps below for freezing strawberries perfectly.
Steps to Freeze Strawberries
- Be sure you have already cleaned off your strawberries.
- Determine how you want to freeze them. You can cut them in half, in pieces, or freeze them whole. Since you are freezing them, they won’t go bad even if they’re whole.
- Freeze your strawberries no more than a couple days after you have picked them or brought them home from the grocery store. You want to freeze them at their ripest point. The longer that you wait, the more likely they are to go bad before they even make it to the freezer!
- Once you’ve determined all of that information, you can place your strawberries in an airtight container/storage baggie. Make sure whatever you have stored your strawberries in is sealed tight.
- Don’t overcrowd your container or you’ll be left with uneven freezing and even some squished strawberries.
- Place your strawberries in an area of your freeze where they won’t get squished. This is only important during the freezing process. We recommend placing them along the little shelves on the door, or anywhere they can easily rest to freeze properly.
- Strawberries can last up to a year in the freezer before you’ll notice a difference in quality, texture, and taste. They aren’t necessarily going bad; they’re just losing their nutrients and potentially becoming freezer burnt.
Fun Things to do with Strawberries
What kind of guide to strawberries would this be if it didn’t include some delicious ways that you can enjoy your strawberries this summer? Check out our favorite ways below!
- Use them in strawberry shortcake
- Make a homemade, fresh fruit tart with a delicious lemon crème filling
- Add them to a simple salad with a sweet dressing
- Slice them thin and put them on your avocado toast
- Turn your strawberries into a jam for your breakfast toast
- Dip them into chocolate for a decadent dessert
- Add them to your protein smoothie for a touch of sweetness
- Make a fresh strawberry cheesecake with them
- Make a refreshing strawberry sorbet with just 4 ingredients
There are numerous recipes that involve strawberries. There are even some savory options out there, you just have to take a look and find what sounds good to you. I think I could do a whole guide to strawberries uses and strawberry recipes.
Benefits of Strawberries
Not only are strawberries a wonderfully sweet treat, but they also make a healthy addition to any way of eating! Let’s talk about some of the health benefits of strawberries in a little more detail.
Since strawberries are a water-based fruit, they actually have less than 8 grams of carbs per every 3.5 ounces. Keep in mind, these are good carbs, not bad carbs!
High in Fiber
Strawberries are known for their high fiber content, which will help keep your gut functioning properly and help keep you fuller for longer!
Vitamins and Minerals
Strawberries contain numerous healthy vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B9 and potentially vitamin B12. All of these vitamins and minerals are found naturally within the strawberry. They are essential to our bodies overall health and wellness including a healthy gut, clear skin, strong brain, and tough muscles!
Strawberries are known to aid in heart health. Studies have shown that due to the good cholesterol found in them, strawberries can reduce blood pressure, improve lipid profile, reduce any inflammation surrounding the heart muscle, improve heart function, and more.
Now you are Ready for Strawberry Season!
Well, there you have it! You have completely read the guide to strawberries. Do you feel more knowledgeable? Are you ready to go picking now that you know the time of year strawberries are in season? Do you feel a little less intimated by strawberry season? We sure hope so!
Remember, strawberry season is between June and August, with the exception of a couple strawberry varieties that grow into the fall. Be sure that you are picking your strawberries gently to avoid damaging the perennial nature of the plant. To avoid getting sick, try to wait until you get home and wash off your fresh fruit before you take that first bite and don’t forget to store your strawberries in airtight containers so they last as long as they possible can!
Lastly, enjoy strawberry season! Let me know if there is anything that I should add to this guide to strawberries in British Columbia and Washington. I hope that you get out picking strawberries this spring.
Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.