“Strawberry Fields Forever” isn’t just a great Beatles song; it’s also the fervent wish of many of us, who wish that the season for luscious red berries lasted all year.
It’s a little disappointing to go to Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon in New York City’s Central Park, and find that there’s not a single strawberry planted on the two-acre field, but at least here at home we have our own strawberry fields, even if it’s just for a few months of the year.
Dickinson was once a major strawberry producer, sending train cars of berries to the East Coast, but development there has crowded out the last of the strawberry fields. One dependable source of locally grown strawberries is still going strong, though. Froberg’s Farm in Alvin has acres of strawberries ready to be picked, with a long growing season from January through May.
The process starts with purchasing a strawberry bucket, and then heading out into the field to find the ripest, reddest berries hiding under the plant’s leaves. Strawberries grow low to the ground, so be prepared to do some bending to fill the bucket.
Picking strawberries at Froberg’s Farm has become a tradition for many families in the area, and it’s not unusual to see multiple generations out in the field together. It is often a child’s first encounter with food still growing in the ground.
For those who prefer their farm produce in ready-to-eat form, Froberg’s famous pies and hand pies are available with strawberries, along with jelly. But strawberries, such a natural for desserts and sweets, can also lend a springtime savor to less-sweet salads, relishes and drinks.
Spinach and strawberry salads are a colorful flavor combination, and a variation that mixes arugula and basil for the base and tops it with strawberries, radishes, sunflower seeds and other ingredients adds even more texture and crunch to the mix. A balsamic vinaigrette also steers the salad away from sweetness.
A green salad is also one of the easiest ways to use the leafy tops of the strawberry. The leaves are edible, and can be chopped like an herb to add to salads.
Adding strawberries to chicken salad adds color and texture as well as an unexpected flavor to chicken salad. Again, basil is paired with strawberries to bring out the best of spring’s favorite fruit. The chicken salad works well as a sandwich filling, or served on a bed of greens such as lettuce, baby kale, or arugula.
While picking your own berries guarantees getting a bucket of the best, packaged strawberries sometimes have a few stragglers in the bottom that are less than picture-perfect. For these, the Mexican fruit drink offers a way to repurpose the less attractive berries.Traditionally, agua fresca relies largely on the fruit’s sweetness, adding minimal sugar to the puréed fruit. Served cold, agua fresca is a refreshing drink that can use up those B-list strawberries without resorting to drowning them in sugar or whipped cream.