SPRINGFIELD TWP., N.J. — New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher on Thursday visited Specca Farms in Springfield Township in Burlington County to highlight the Jersey Fresh strawberry picking season.
“Strawberries are one of the first fruits of the New Jersey growing season and signal that many more Jersey Fresh produce items are on the way,” Secretary Fisher said. “Jersey Fresh strawberries are picked ripe and the taste is second to none. If you want them, now is the time as the season will come to a close in a few weeks.”
Plump, juicy and delicious Jersey Fresh strawberries are available now at community farmers markets, local farm stands and pick-your-own farms in the state. Harvesting of the popular spring crop began in early-May and should continue through mid-June.
Specca Farms grows three acres of Rutgers Scarlet, Chandler, Flavor Fest and Sweet Charlie varieties of strawberries and the pick-your-own operation is open each week from Thursday-Sunday. The farm accepts WIC and Senior Vouchers for purchases.
“Strawberries are one of the most popular crops for our pick-your-own customers because of the sweet flavor and aroma you get from fresh picked berries,” said Dave Specca, owner of Specca Farms along with his wife, Lisa. “People coming for pick-your-own should look for berries that are ripe all the way to the tip. Keep them on the counter if your house is cool and plan on keeping them for only a day or two. Otherwise, put them in the fridge or cut the caps off and freeze.”
Specca’s berries are available at their pick-your-own farm at 880 Jacksonville-Mt. Holly Road or at The CORN STOP Farm Market on Route 206 in Eastampton. The family has been farming in Burlington County since the early 1900s and grows over 100 varieties of vegetables throughout the season.
Strawberries can be part of a healthy diet as they are a good source of vitamin C. Strawberries should not be washed until ready to eat because their high water content.
Look for strawberries that are 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.
To find Jersey Fresh strawberries, recipes that use strawberries and other Jersey Fresh products at farm markets or pick-your-own farms, visit www.findjerseyfresh.com.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture