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7 Ways to Take Advantage of Strawberry Season in California
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7 Ways to Take Advantage of Strawberry Season in California

If you’ve been looking for more fun ways to welcome the strawberry season in California, you’ve come to the right place.

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5 min read

May 20, 2021

We can’t think of anything better than biting into a fresh and juicy strawberry this time of year—except maybe gulping down an ice-cold glass of strawberry lemonade (yum). Luckily, we don’t have to wait long because strawberry season in California is upon us. We’ll have our fridges stocked with perfectly ripe cartons of organic strawberries in no time. And if you’ve been looking for more fun ways to welcome the strawberry season in California, you’ve come to the right place.

Take your family strawberry picking this season for a berry sweet outdoor activity. You'll have plenty to make a strawberry cheesecake.

1. Go Strawberry Picking Throughout California

The Golden State is home to incredible U-pick farms, many of which allow you to pick strawberries during the season. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when going California strawberry picking.

  • Choose bright red berries. Remember that strawberries are not like other fruits—they don’t continue to ripen after they’re picked. Make sure to choose the ones that are already ripe
  • Pay attention to the leaves. If the strawberry leaves are healthy and green, then the fruit itself is also likely to be fresh
  • Only pick the amount you know you will use. Food waste is a real problem in California (and most of the world), so it’s our duty to effectively try to reduce waste

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2. Visit California's Strawberry Farms

Now that you know what strawberries to look for on your next California strawberry picking field trip, here’s where you should go.

  •  Swanton Berry Farm: this Bay Area berry farm is a local favorite—it’s Pescadero berry picking at its best
  • Carlsbad Strawberry Company: If you’re planning on going strawberry picking in San Diego, Carlsbad Strawberry Company is your best bet. Pick the freshest berries as you wander through the gorgeous Carlsbad strawberry fields
  • Tanaka Farms: Want to go strawberry picking in Orange County? Tanaka Farms is the place to be. The Irvine destination updates the information on their fields all the time, so make sure to check for strawberry availability before you go
  • Forneris Farms: Located in Mission Hills, Forneris Farms offers strawberry picking in Los Angeles every year. If you visit during fall, you’ll also find fresh pumpkins at this L.A. farm
Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo, Northern Santa Barbara, and Monterey County produce the most strawberries in the state.

If you’re more of an admirer than a picker, California’s strawberry farms still have you covered. Walk through the green fields dotted with specks of bright red and take as many photos as your heart desires. Just don’t forget to support the farm by purchasing a carton or two on your way out.

While there are approximately 300 strawberry farms in California, there are seven concentrated areas in the state—Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Orange County, San Diego, and the Central Valley. Plan your California strawberry farm road trip to pass through at least one of these areas and find the best farms in the state.

Planting berries in your garden is easy and rewarding. Get ahead this season and plant them in your backyard.

3. Grow your Own Strawberries

If visiting the farms and fields inspires you to grow your own organic strawberry plants, you can totally do it. In fact, growing strawberries is so low maintenance that you don’t even need a garden to do so (but of course, it’s better if you do.)

Looking for tips to grow strawberries in California? Here are a few:

  • The best time to plant strawberries is during the fall. This gives your strawberries enough time to settle and develop before summertime comes
  • Prep your soil with the right nutrients and make sure you have the correct soil type to plant strawberries effectively
  • Make sure your plants get at least eight hours of sunlight per day
  • Provide the plants with one to one and a half inches of water per week

These tips will help you grow the reddest and juiciest strawberries—like the ones you find at California’s farmers markets.

Pie, cheesecake, fruit leather, strawberry shortcake, sorbets—we're always down to prepare delicious strawberry snacks and desserts.

4. Savor Strawberry Recipes

Did you over pick (or buy) strawberries and need to use them any way you can? Strawberry recipes are here to save the day. The versatile fruit fits seamlessly into many easy recipes, and California's bloggers know how to use them in the best ways. Make healthy snacks like strawberry fruit leather; no-bake desserts such as chocolate-covered strawberries; and easy summer treats including classic strawberry shortcake. For more inspo, check out our own strawberry recipes inspired by the Golden State.

Spread it on toast, use it as a topping, or have it in the morning with a little bit of cheese—strawberry jam is the real deal.

5. Make Strawberry Jam

As tasty as seasonal strawberry recipes can be, nothing is as versatile and long-lasting as strawberry jam. Easy, delicious, and requiring less than five ingredients, this classic homemade recipe is a worthwhile addition to any pantry.

Yield: 4 jars 

Ingredients

2 pounds California strawberries

3–4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 pounds granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Wash the strawberries and cut them in half before lightly smashing them with a large fork.
  2. Transfer the strawberries along with their juice to a medium-sized pan. Add fresh lemon juice and let it boil over low heat. This should take about five minutes.
  3. Add in the granulated sugar, continue stirring, and make sure it’s evenly distributed. Raise the heat to high and let it boil for 15 minutes without stirring. 
  4. Remove the resulting foam with a large metal spoon. Let the jam cool for a few seconds before pouring it into clean mason jars.
  5. Keep the jars in a dry and dark place. Store them in the refrigerator once you open the lids.
Help your community and lend a hand to those in need. Whether it's donating freshly-picked berries or distributing tasty recipes, sharing is caring.

6. Share your Strawberry Creations with Those in Need

It’s never the wrong time to give back to the community, and strawberry season in California just happens to be the tastiest time to help those in need. Donate fresh strawberries and share your strawberry recipes with organizations that provide aid to people in need. You can also help your loved ones who would appreciate your assistance. This way, you combat food waste and help your community end hunger.

Where would we be without the hardworking farmers who give us delicious strawberries? Support your local farmers market and make an impact.

7. Support Your Local Farmers

Last but not least, we can’t forget to thank farmers for delivering yummy berries every year during California's strawberry season. There are a number of ways to show your appreciation. Supporting farmers markets, visiting California strawberry farms and fields, and avoiding large corporations by buying directly from local farms are a few ways to do so. Not to mention, freshly picked strawberries beat the frozen supermarket kind any day.

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