By Joyce Lavene
Strawberry season madness is on us here in North Carolina. It was a cold winter here but strawberry crops seem to be abundant and even ready earlier than in some years. Pick your own fields are bursting with ripe, juicy berries. maybe you've been buying early in the grocery store, but nothing there will ever compare with the taste of a ripe, juicy berry from from the vine!
There is a certain etiquette to pick your own crops. Despite the urge to bring small children, resist! Unless you have someone else to watch them, you will either have to curtail their enthusiasm, or you won't be able to pick berries. Kids get a little wild around plants. They are outside - which typically means it's time to play. You can see field owner cringing when kids run into the field.
Polite picking means you allow yourself the rows in front of you and don't overreach into someone else's row. Don't eat as you go. Strawberry farmers are trying to make enough money to plant next years crop too. And you should wash the berries before you eat them.
Wearing gloves is a bad idea. You can't feel the berries well enough and might squish them with your fingers. Boots and mosquito spray are a good idea. It's hard to plan what the fields will be like the day you arrive. If they've recently been watered or it has rained, the dirt can be messy. A hat is good too, on a sunny day, and don't forget sunblock.
This applies to more than just strawberries, of course. I'm just thinking strawberries because I just got home from picking strawberries at a nearby field. I can't wait to get to those berries!
Here is a link to the NC site for fresh strawberries and pick your own that has more than 200 recipes!
Joyce Lavene writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction with her husband, Jim, as themselves, J.J. Cook and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural
with their family. Their new releases for 2014 include Playing with Fire, Broken Hearted Ghoul, Death on Eat Street, Lethal Lily, Bewitching Boots, Murderous Mince, and Spell Booked.