by Lindsay Ott Wilcox
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 Pompey 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, this is one of the most bountiful strawberry seasons in recent years.
More Than Apples! Berry Picking at Navarino Orchard
“This year’s strawberry crop is one of our best. There wasn’t any winter injury or frost damage to the strawberry plants. We’ve been watering and weeding, and the field looks great,” 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.
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
Over in Pompey, it’s peak time for strawberry picking at Tre-G Farms. Owner Sue Smith often overhears 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,” 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 to late June. This year, it may go into the first few days of July.
If you miss out on strawberries, no worries. Raspberry season begins in early July, followed by blueberries in mid-July. Navarino Orchard offers 6 varieties of pick-your-own raspberries. In addition to the early 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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