Know all about the Strawberry Season California in this article – these sweet and tasty treats have fun-going traditions people enjoy.
Origin Of California Strawberries
The gold rush of the 19th century came with an agricultural boom, which gave immigrants a chance to experiment with finding an easy means of success – strawberries.
This fruit gave these families income and allowed them to settle down. This led to the practice of opening up farms and businesses and picking strawberries.
The immigrants’ interest, combined with California’s special climate and soils, make it home to almost 90% of the growth, playing a central role in America’s strawberry season.
1) What Is Strawberry Season California?
Although the strawberry season varies depending on the region and weather conditions, there are certain broad factors one can take into account –
The Mediterranean climate of California has both hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters suited for Strawberry Season California.
So, the sunny days and cool, humid nights with moderate temperatures year-round make it a perfect city to plant strawberries.
Around 75% of the harvest is fresh strawberries, and 25% are frozen for processing.
Most fresh strawberries are sold in the US, while around 16% are exported to Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan.
The spring crop strawberries are in season between May to mid-July in the eastern and midwestern states, while winter crops growing from late November to early April are more popular in southern states.
Specifically, California strawberries have their growing, planting, and harvesting season.
1.2.1) Growing Strawberries
One can plant strawberries depending on the ideal temperature and region –
1) In southern California, one can plant strawberries between late October to December due to mild winters.
2) In Central and Northern California, summer plantings are more common – inland in August and near the coast in October.
‘June Fruiting’ is a popular term used to denote when the strawberries ripen in Northern California in areas like Monterey, Fresno counties, San Benito and Santa Clara. Still, in southern areas, the fruiting time is between November to December.
Growing strawberries can last between 50 (Sierra Nevada mountains) to 365 (southern coast) days. Most strawberries are grown along the California coast (on almost 35000 acres).
This also depends on the types of strawberries mentioned below.
1.2.2) Harvesting Strawberries
The peak season for California strawberries is early spring through fall (January – May). Although, they are harvested year-round.
Broadly, the strawberry season in southern and central California occurs from January to September, while Central California harvest dates vary from April to June.
Specifically, harvesting strawberries in peak season occurs in Salinas, Orange County, Santa Maria, and Oxnard. The latter two make it available throughout the year.
1.3) Types of Strawberries
We can classify the kinds depending on the California strawberries produced –
1) Those that produce a single crop in spring after planting are called short-day strawberries.
They are also called June bearing strawberries as they produce flower beds in summer and fall.
2) Those strawberries grown in the spring, summer, and fall seasons are called everbearing strawberries.
3) Those that produce crops during the entire growing season are called day-neutral strawberries.
The last two categories are common varieties of the strawberry season in California. One of the juiciest strawberries is Chandler, known for its flavor, size, and color.
Let us look at how one can take advantage of the strawberry harvest in California.
2) Things To Do During Strawberry Season California
Due to its rich history and present usage, the typical Strawberry Season California can be enjoyed with the following activities –
2.1) Try Strawberry Picking
You can enjoy picking and harvesting California strawberries at any U pick farms that the state has. Here are some options.
In case you choose to engage in this activity during Strawberry Season California, these tips might help you –
1) Always choose the bright red berries; picking the ripened ones is advisable.
You can also judge based on the leaves, i.e., if they are healthy and green, you might get fresh fruits.
2.2) Take A Tour of the Strawberry Farms
If you like admiring and wandering places, this is the activity to try out during Strawberry Season California. Walking through the green fields that showcase bright red in between will not only help one relax but is also a great spot to take photos.
You can choose among 300 strawberry farms concentrated in 7 areas – Salinas, Santa Maria, Watsonville, Oxnard (Ventura County), Orange County, Central Valley, and San Diego to travel through during a California road trip.
Check out a list of popular places like Tanaka farms here.
2.3) Grow Strawberries
What better way to taste these delicious treats than growing organic strawberry plants?
It is perfect considering the measures you have to take are low maintenance. Here are some tips to try during Strawberry Season California –
1) Planting a strawberry crop during the fall season is advised, as it can develop before summer.
2) The right nutrients and soil type are essential to growing strawberries. You can check this out in detail here.
3) Essentially, 8 hours of sunlight should be provided to your plant.
These steps will help you get the same California strawberries found in the farmer’s markets.
2.4) Make Sweet and Delicious Strawberry Recipes
You cannot miss out on California blogs giving recipes of this versatile ingredient during Strawberry Season California.
You can make plenty of desserts like the famous shortcake, healthy snacks like fruit leather, and others of your taste. Click here to find some California ones.
2.5) Help Local Farmers and Others in Need
Celebrating Strawberry Season California also means giving out bits of these tasty treats.
A family fun time can include donating and sharing recipes with those in need. This will help combat hunger and food waste.
Of course, none of this would be possible without farmers. All you have to do is follow the steps mentioned above and help their markets grow to show your support.
Now, with the basic activities mentioned, let us look at a popular event you might miss out on this season.
3) What Is the California Strawberry Festival?
With food booths, rides, contests, arts & crafts vendors, celebrity chef demonstrations, concerts, and strawberry land (for the kids) – the California strawberry festival is something one should experience during Strawberry Season California.
You can get to enjoy almost 1.5 million strawberries prepared into crazy dishes like margaritas, tamales, nachos, pizza, and more traditional dishes like shortcakes and pies at this strawberry festival.
Almost 60,000 visitors attend this two-day event held in Oxnard (Ventura County), which also benefits the community by opening up charitable organizations and scholarships for children of farmers.
Learn, Explore and know more about the present status of California’s strawberry festival here.
4) General Tips for Strawberries
Here are some tips you can follow when it comes to enjoying strawberries during Strawberry Season California –
4.1) How to Pick and Grow?
To grow the best strawberries, choose fertile and well-drained soil. Apply compost to the bed before planting it. During early spring – don’t forget to dig small holes every 24 rows. A mix of summer fruits with perennials would give a long season.
To pick the best berries at home, you must let them be fully ripe. Hanging on the plants for a prolonged period can develop the sugar and add to the sweetness.
If you wish to buy from the market during Strawberry Season California, it is best to taste it, but if not possible, check the color – bright red and green caps work, but brown or shriveled ones are to be avoided.
4.2) How to Keep Berries Fresh?
Once you have fresh strawberries in your possession, make sure you quickly reach home. Only rinse them before eating, this can prevent mold.
Remember to remove any smushed or bruised ones from the crate immediately. Don’t worry, and these can be used to make sauce, smoothies, and yogurts.
4.3) How to Store Berries?
If you haven’t eaten the lot, you can always store them in the freezer. Here’s how –
Slice the green tops, rinse and let them dry. You can lay it out the whole piece or slice it. Place it on parchment paper, and keep it in the freezer.
Once they are hard, store them in freezer-safe bags. You can consume for up to 6 months.
If you wish to learn storage tips for fruits like apples and grapes, click here.
4.4) Is It Safe to Consume?
According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fresh fruits and veggies are consumed more to reduce the risk of diseases and maintain a more balanced life.
The organic and conventional strawberries fit in this list. You can check out the other fruits here.
You need not worry about any tiny bugs that you might find in your strawberries; this is due to being stored in clamshell containers. Just follow the tips mentioned above for prevention.
4.4.1) Health Benefits of Strawberries
These fruits are not just popular for their taste, but can be eaten for several nutritious benefits like –
1) 8 fruits can give you the recommended amount of vitamin c for the day. This helps absorb iron, provides better immune functions, and reduces the risk of heart disease.
2) 1 serving has 4% potassium which balances electrolytes and helps muscle contractions.
3) 1 serving has 8% folate, which helps with the proper functioning of the cells.
Other than these, it also contains healthy fibers and flavonoids, which maintain general health.
5) Other California Fruits
Besides strawberries, citrus fruits are popularly grown in California between November and April. Some of the popular ones include grapefruits, Asian pears, blood oranges, and navel oranges.
Others include Almonds, apricots, figs, dates, nectarines, kiwis, olives, pistachios, lemons, and peaches.
Check out the entire list here.
If you liked this article Strawberry Season California, check out other interesting things to do here.