Strawberry season is upon us in Florida and I couldn’t be happier if I tried. This is one of my favorite times of the year! I have taken my children strawberry picking since they were babies. I love that I get to score strawberries at a great price while showing them where food comes from. I would love to share some tips so that you can enjoy strawberry picking with kids.
Things to Know | Strawberry Picking with Kids
Bring your Own Baskets
Most strawberry fields do not give you the cartons to keep. You will want to bring your own basket to take them home in. I like to stop at the Dollar Store and pick up enough baskets for what we are picking. Make sure your basket is not very deep. The berries will mash if you stack them too deep. It’s better to have a lot of shallow baskets than a few big ones. After picking season, we typically use these to organize our homeschool.
Look under the leaves
Many of the good strawberries will be hiding under the leaves. Don’t be afraid to lift up the leaves and look for better berries. I have had friends who only pick what they can see and miss out on great berries. Not all berries will be good. That said, there may be some delicious berries hiding from the sun.
Don’t pick after a heavy rain
If you head to the strawberry field after a heavy rain the berries could be in poor shape. If you have the option, wait until it has been sunny for a day or two. It will make it easier for you to pick good berries quickly. We went after the rain and spent double the time because of all the mashed and molded berries we worked around.
Wear Clothes that can get dirty
Strawberries are generally very low to the ground. I sit my behind down in the dirt and scoot forward as I pick. It is just easier on my back. If you are trying to avoid bending the whole time, dress in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. This goes for the kids as well. I can’t count the number of times I have left the field with a child covered in a muddy strawberry juice mess.
Pick a variety of berries
It can be tempting to fill your basket with all of the big berries you see. Do yourself a favor and pick a variety. Different sizes will have a different flavor. Some may be better for smoothies while others might be best for jam. Try and pick a good variety.
Don’t go too red
If your berries are too red they can be over ripe and quickly go bad. This isn’t a big deal if you plan to process them all when you get home. However, if your goal is to wait a day because life happens make sure to pick berries that can ripen for a day without spoiling.
Don’t leave them in the car
Do you have stops to make after the strawberry field? Either bring a cooler or make a pit stop at home first. Berries that sit in the hot car are more likely to spoil. This is especially true of Florida.
Be ready for the kids to eat!
My kids both had a rule, “pick one, eat one.” I always joke with the person that owns the field that I should be paying him double because of all the berries the kids eat while we are out there. Be prepared for that. It could get messy but there is nothing better than a strawberry that you just picked.
Not all fields have Bathrooms
Not all of the U-Pick fields will have a bathroom available. I suggest making a pit stop before you get out there. Some will have portapotties but many won’t. This can quickly become a problem with little ones if you don’t plan ahead.
Ask what else the field sells
Our field also sells these huge strawberry onions for $1. They are grown near the berries so they are a sweeter onion. We love to cut these up and freeze them for recipes throughout the year. Ask your field what else they sell so that you can score a great deal.
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