Celebrating Kansas City’s Strawberry Season
Our family loves to pick our own produce annually at Kansas City's local u-pick farms...whether it's blueberries and peaches in the summer or apples in the fall, or fresh vegetables and berries throughout the season. But one of my personal favorites is strawberry picking!
Strawberry Picking Tips
- Strawberry plants are low to the ground—the perfect height for toddlers and preschoolers! Be prepared for stooping and bending over.
- Dress for a mess! Most of our local patches are as "tidy" as a farm could possibly be. But let's face it, you will be bent over in the dirt picking juicy berries. I like to dress my kids in their favorite tie-dyed t-shirts from last summer. Any new stains are just part of the design, right? Seriously, dress in comfortable tennis shoes and jeans/shirts meant for working in a garden.
- Bring wipes for messy fingers.
- Remember to take pictures. Strawberry smiles make super cute scrapbook photos!
- Bring bottled water (and perhaps snacks too depending on your lunch plans).
- Teach your children that "redder is better" when it comes to strawberries. Leave the green behind; they are still growing!
- Bring a cooler and ice to keep berries fresh for the ride home. You may want to bring a few plastic containers that fit properly in your cooler for the berries. The boxes the patch provided were too wide for my cooler, and I had to gently pour the berries loose into the cooler. It worked, but plastic would've been ideal.
- Visit our guide to Kansas City's U-Pick Strawberry Farms.
Our Favorite Uses for Fresh Strawberries
- Eat them fresh—straight, with cream or in cereal!
- Make smoothies! We love to experiment. Toss strawberries, yogurt, ice, some additional favorite fruits and perhaps some milk all into the blender and voila! If you're a recipe follower, the Food Network offers many great strawberry smoothie recipes!
- Bake pie and strawberry muffins. Share with friends and neighbors!
- THEN, if you still have berries...I store them in the fridge until they are "about to turn." Then I clean and freeze them. Our family uses the frozen berries year-round for smoothies, muffins and strawberry syrup with Saturday morning pancakes!
Light Family’s Favorite Strawberry Syrup:
3 c. fresh or thawed frozen strawberries (Cleaned and diced, juicy is good—you are making syrup!)
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. lemon juice
2-3 T. water
2 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 c. water.
In a medium saucepan, combine berries, sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to boil (add a bit of water if needed to prevent burning). Once it boils, slowly add cornstarch and water mixture. Then, simmer until the strawberries are soft and the syrup is thickened and reduced by one-third to one-half in volume (approx. 20 min). Remove from heat and let cool to desired temp before serving. You may strain for seeds if desired. Serve with favorite pancakes or waffles.