Originally Published June 21st, 2018 | Updated June 18th, 2019

Want to go strawberry picking in Syracuse? You’ve got options. Many farms in Syracuse open their fields to the public for berry picking: from Navarino to Baldwinsville. (See the map of u-pick fields and get directions at the bottom of this article.)

Right now, local fields in the Syracuse area are brimming with ruby red strawberries. According to local growers, while the season got off to a later start thanks to the cold and rainy weather, the berries are delightfully sweet and bursting with flavor this year.

Not in the mood to go berry picking? No worries. Every U-Pick operation also offers pre-picked berries for purchase. You can also find local strawberries for sale in farm stores and even some grocery stores throughout Onondaga County. For example, the Silver Spring Farm Market on Seneca Turnpike in Onondaga Hill carries fresh strawberries from local growers.

Late But Sweet Start to 2019 Strawberry Season

While it’s been a notoriously rainy and cold season so far, the only impact to most local strawberry crops is a delay in the start of strawberry season.

“We have another great crop of strawberries this year. There has been plenty of rain so we have good size fruit and the berries are nice and sweet. Things are running a little late, we’ll end up doing U-Pick berries well into July,” said Vincent Sicignano, owner of Navarino Orchard.

While Navarino Orchard is known for u-pick apples, there are rows and rows of strawberry plants loaded with berries right now. The strawberry fields open on June 19th for U-Pick at 8am. It’s just $2 per pound of U-Pick strawberries! 

Located just south of Syracuse, Navarino Orchard is nestled in the rolling hills of apple country on Cherry Valley Turnpike. Navarino grows 3 varieties of strawberries: Earliglow, Wendy, and Jewel.

Smaller is Better, Plus the #1 Secret to Picking Strawberries

Last year, we spoke with Sue Smith of Tre-G Farms (note: Tre-G no longer offers U-Pick strawberries…the farm is now solely focused on their dairy business). Sue explained some common misconceptions about strawberries. She would often overhear customers wonder why the strawberries are smaller than those in the grocery stores.

“Size isn’t a good indicator of flavor or quality. The sweeter varieties typically produce a smaller berry. The larger varieties from California are grown for a longer shelf life and a firmer skin to resist bruising on that long journey. Taste is a secondary consideration for largescale California growers,” explained Sue.

Sue’s best tip for strawberry picking?

“For maximum sweetness, look for berries that are fully red – with little or no white color. Once you pick a strawberry, the flavor will not change. The color may deepen, but if you pick a not-quite-ripe berry, the flavor will be too tart.”

Hurry! Strawberry Season is Short But Sweet

Everyone always asks: when is strawberry picking season? While it varies from year to year, strawberry season typically runs from early June to early July. For 2019, the season is off to a later start – with the first strawberries being ready for picking on June 15th. The season should extend past July 4th this year.

If you miss out on strawberries, no worries. Raspberry and blueberry season begins in early- to mid-July. Navarino Orchard offers 6 varieties of pick-your-own raspberries. In addition to the July crop, there’s a fall variety that can be picked up until the first frost.

7 Strawberry Picking Tips

Across town in Baldwinsville, the strawberry picking fields of Reeves Farm are also bursting with berries. You can pick your own strawberries. Or, grab a few pints at the roadside farm stand.

The Reeves Farm team shared their best tips for strawberry picking in Syracuse.

1. Tops for Freshness

When picking strawberries, leave the green tops on. This will keep them fresher longer and prevent the berries from losing juice when you wash them.

2. Wait to Wash

Don’t wash strawberries until right before you use them (and use cold water). They’ll last longer and taste better!

3. Keep Your Cool

Ripe berries should be kept in the refrigerator and used within a few days.

4. A Little Dirt Doesn’t Hurt

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

5. Get Sun Smart

Wear sunscreen and a hat. Bring lots of water. There is rarely any shade in U-pick fields!

6. Drive Carefully

Drive carefully. If you are driving in a field, watch out for irrigation pipes or rough spots in field. Stay on the main drive so you don’t run over crops.

7. Dog Days of Summer

Leave your pets at home. Due to food safety regulations, pets are not allowed in the fields.

Simple Strawberry Syrup Recipe, Compliments of Reeves Farm

Max Freeman, the Business and Market Development Intern at Reeves Farm, shared his go-to strawberry syrup recipe. Max is a student at LeMoyne College, studying Business Management. But he also has a background in culinary arts. He swears by this truly “simple” simple syrup. He suggests adding the syrup to lemonade or milk. Or, drizzle it over desserts and pastries.

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups strawberries (halved)

Combine sugar and water on high heat until dissolved. Add strawberries and boil at high temp for about 10 minutes so the berry pulp can break down. Reduce heat to medium low and cook down to desired liking. Strain mixture, let it cool, then store in the fridge.

Easy Strawberry Daiquiri, Compliments of Navarino Orchard

Vincent Sicignano of Navarino Orchard wanted to share his favorite daiquiri recipe. It can be made as a “mocktail” (just skip the rum).

4 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup fresh strawberries
4 oz. simple syrup
4 oz. rum
Juice of 1 lime

Blend strawberries (both frozen and fresh) in a blender first. Add next 3 ingredients and blend again. Sip. Enjoy!

Best Spots for Berry Picking in the Syracuse Area

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