While the sky forms a range of cumulous clouds on a backdrop of blue, and the air is dense and muggy. While at a distance the waves of the Salish Sea are well beyond the rows and rows of ripening berries, and fields of cover cropped barley. We stand in the middle, of a middle row picking from the first flush of strawberries at Greysmarsh Farm. Into stainless steel they go, in my regular rotation of one for me and three for the bowl .
It all retreats to a hum
In fact, there is a real hum as the farm’s honey bees hover on the nearby blueberry blossoms. Berry picking to me is a sacred seasonal ritual, we begin with the strawberries and work through raspberries, marionberries, loganberries and our favorite the blueberries each summer. We pick and eat, and can or freeze to save the rest for breakfasts in the quiet days of winter.
I love the smells of strawberries: in the field when the sun warms them, on the stove as they heat, in the kitchen air as they thaw.
I hear people’s voices all around, some I recognize, most I don’t. It’s the regular berry talk of: “They’ll have to weigh you on the way out.” “This row’s already been picked.” “I found a good patch.”... and the endless comparisons to last year’s berries: these are sweeter, those were better and the warnings of, “You pick your own and leave Grandma’s alone!”
We picked 20 lbs of strawberries last Sunday. I made strawberry shortcakes with scones for breakfast the next morning, left a big bowl for fresh eating. The rest I pureed and froze in ½ cups. I used little drinking cups, and when they were frozen, popped them out and put four per ziplock back into the freezer. I like to do it this way because then I can use the ½ cups of strawberries as I choose. I never add anything, just strawberries pureed and frozen. I use them all year for jam, syrup, smoothies…then I just add what I want as needed. I use stevia to sweeten with, and sometimes add vanilla, balsamic reductions, rhubarb.Yesterday I made a strawberry banana, vanilla smoothie with homemade milk kefir, so good.