One of my favorite songs is “Strawberry Letter #23″ as performed by Shuggie Otis. And over the past week, as I received a great recipe for strawberry shortcake from a reader and tasted some delicious strawberry lemon shortcake bars made by my colleague, I just couldn’t get that original version out of my head. Rainbows and waterfalls (and strawberries) run through my mind…
It’s appropriate. Strawberry season in Virginia is almost upon us.
In early to mid-May, often right around Mother’s Day, local strawberry farms open for the picking. And there is no strawberry like a strawberry you plucked yourself, brought home, rinsed briefly and scarfed standing over the kitchen sink.
Here are a couple of pick-your-own-strawberry farms in our region. You should DEFINITELY call in advance to see if the strawberries are ready before you go.
* Dansby’s Strawberry Farm at 4481 Colonial Turnpike in Rocky Mount will have berries this year, and they are expected to ripen in the next couple of weeks. The phone number is (540) 576-3658.
* Scott’s Strawberry Farm is at 5234 Joppa Mill Rd., Moneta. Phone number (540) 297-7917. When I called today, I got a voicemail greeting that said the berries are not ready yet but call back after May 1. UPDATE: Scott’s will have a Strawberry Festival at the farm on May 21 and 22 with live music, horse and buggy rides, delicious strawberry ice cream and other treats. Parking fee $2. Call for more details.
* If you are near South Boston or want to drive down that way, you can check out Dean Puryear Farms at 3191 Huell Matthews Highway, South Boston, VA 24592. Phone: (434) 575-7307 or 517-0237 (night)
FYI, this website, PickYourOwn.org, is a great place to search for PYO farms. Pretty soon, cherries and blueberries will be in season, too, and there are more places to pick blueberries than there are strawberries, so check it out if interested.
If you don’t want to pick your own or can’t find a farm near you, be sure to check your local farmers market. But here’s a tip: Choice seasonal offerings such as strawberries tend to sell out fast, so you may want to get up bright and early and be one of the first to visit the market.
Also, the Community School’s 31st Annual Strawberry Festival will take place in Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke on Friday, May 6 (10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 7 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Click here to see a delicious recipe for strawberry-lemon shortbread bars from Southern Living. My colleague, Rebecca Holland, brought in some of these and they were awesome. Even though they call for strawberry preserves, they were not overly sweet, which surprised me. Rebecca said the hardest part was cutting in the butter for the crust. Very doable!
If you know of other sources for local strawberries and are willing to share the info, please let us know. And stay tuned for that strawberry shortcake recipe, which was submitted for my Mother’s Day weekend recipe package.