Strawberry picking tips ahead of the 9th Annual Strawberry Festival

Fresh picked strawberries look and taste better than the berries you find in the grocery store. | Philadelphia Orchard Project
Philadelphia Orchard Project

Whether you want to grow them yourself, make jam or just eat them by the handful, strawberry season is approaching. You won’t find that perfect flavor in the grocery store, however. Here are tips on where to find the freshest strawberries near Philly and how to pick the patch.

Start at the Strawberry Festival

Historic Strawberry Mansion hosts the 9th Annual Strawberry Festival on June 10th. Pick your own berries, get a tour of the mansion and check out a beekeeping demonstration. If you want to put your baking to the test, enter the strawberry dessert contest. Plus, Parks on Tap will be there for a pop up beer garden and other fun activities. The festival is the only time where you can pick your own strawberries directly in the city.

If you go:
9th Annual Strawberry Festival
Saturday, June 10 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Take a day trip outside the city to pick your own

Phil Forsyth of the Philadelphia Orchards Project gives props to Linvilla Orchards in Media (137 Knowlton Rd.). Drive a little further to Weaver’s Orchard at 40 Fruit Ln. in Morgantown. Pick as much as you want and pay by the pound. Tip: Most places charge less per pound when you pick more. Grab some friends and split your loot at the end of the day. Strawberries fresh from the farm won’t taste like most store bought berries. Fruit is obviously best when it’s fresh, but strawberries go through a particularly interesting process to get from the patch to the grocery store shelf. “The ones at the supermarket are picked unripe and influenced to turn red,” says Forsyth. “They wouldn’t do that in their natural state. They aren’t aromatic in flavor.”

Pro tip: Look for the smaller berries

Smaller strawberry varieties have a lot more flavor. Look for places that sell multiple varieties so you can do a taste test and find the perfect berry for baking or snacking.
Want to grow them at home? It’s easier than you think. “Strawberries are one of the easiest plants to grow,” says Forsyth. “You can put them in containers or window boxes, or plant right in the ground. They like rich soil, so get some compost.” Strawberry patches will produce good crops for four or five seasons. After that, it’s good to start a new patch to get the best berries at home.

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