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Spring Fruit Being Harvested in Good Quality and Quantity
For Immediate Release: June 9, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(TRENTON) – Jersey Fresh strawberries, delicious with everything from cereal to creamy desserts, are now in season – with harvests underway in various parts of the state, Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today.

“You know it’s almost summer in New Jersey when Jersey Fresh strawberries are here, and the Garden State is home to some of the best-tasting, juiciest strawberries,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Biting into a sweet, plump Jersey Fresh strawberry picked fresh from one of our many pick-your-own farms, bought at your local farmers market, or harvested from your own garden is a true taste experience.”

Strawberries should be plump and firm with a bright red color and natural shine. The size of the berry is not important; the color of the berry and the fragrance are the best indicators of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid strawberries with green or white color, or those that appear mushy, shriveled or leaky. Strawberries do not ripen after harvest, so they should be immediately stored in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption time as possible.

When purchasing, check the carton for stains, which indicate over-ripeness. Remove the strawberries from the market or store container. Store in a shallow container on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a shallow container is not feasible, put paper towels between the layers. Remove from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature for optimum flavor. Do not wash strawberries until ready to eat because their high water content, on top of the additional water, will result in a mushy berry. Once the caps are removed, an enzyme is released that destroys the vitamin C. Be certain to remove the caps after rinsing to prevent the strawberry from becoming waterlogged and from losing vitamin C content.

Strawberries are tasty raw, especially when served with liqueur or when dipped in balsamic vinegar and brushed with powdered sugar. Preserve as a jam, or easily freeze by coating in a water and lemon juice mix.

New Jersey produced 1.1 million pounds of strawberries valued at $1.82 million in 2003. The strawberry season begins at the end of May, peaks during June and ends in mid-July.

For the location of farm markets, pick-your-own farms or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.