Strawberry Fields Forever…

So anyways, we’re smack in the middle of the strawberry season. But isn’t it just the start of spring? Ah yes, but here on the Sunshine Coast our season runs from May through to October. The first strawberries begin appearing around Mother’s Day and come Melbourne Cup Day they’re gone.

Fun fact 1: Queensland supplies the winter production of strawberries for the rest of the country and most of them (about 85%) are grown here on the Sunshine Coast – although Bundaberg is now also growing strawberries and there are some producers even further up north on the Atherton Tablelands. 

We’re lucky – the strawberries that we buy at our weekly farmer’s market haven’t been anywhere near cold storage. They’re low on food miles and taste the way that strawberries are meant to taste. The way they never seem to taste in the city.

Fun fact 2: Strawberries have to be picked when they’re ripe. They won’t ripen any more once they’ve been picked.

Picking your own…

There’s something about picking your own fruit though – and luckily, we have places where you can do that. What’s not to love? Some Vitamin D, the smell of warm strawberries all around, the promise of the freshest tastiest fruit and a strawberry icecream at the end of it.

Fun Fact 3: Technically the strawberry is not a berry, but a member of the rose family. Don’t say you don’t learn anything here!

McMartin’s Farm

BLI BLI

After we finished picking we went for a bit of a stroll around to check out the views and see what else was growing.

Not only are the strawberries fabulous here, but the ice cream is next-level good. Made on premises it contains about 30% fruit – that’s a lot of fruit.

You can, of course, get a Devonshire tea here as well, but we stuck with the ice cream.

There’s even a playground for the kids.

Open 7 days between June and October. Check the website for dates.

At the time of our visit it was $13 per kilo. You can get them cheaper at the markets, but it’s not nearly as much fun.

Strawberry Fields

Palmview

With picnic areas, lawns for the kids to run around, a farm shop and a café there’s more to do than pick strawberries – although that’s obviously what you go for.

Open 7 days between June and November. Check the website for dates. At the time of our visit it was $14 per kilo. We picked 2kgs and I bought another 3 kgs of jam strawberries for $5.

For more places where you can pick your own, check out this list.

5 Things to do with strawberries

Trifle

1.Strawberries in Cassis. When we were in France, we were served this on our first night. It’s quick, easy and super tasty. All you do is hull and halve about 500g of strawberries and tip over a couple of tablespoons of crème de cassis. Scatter a teaspoon of caster sugar over the top, cover it with clingfilm and put it aside for an hour or so. Stir before serving with cream or ice cream.

2. Speaking of which, obviously there’s strawberry ice creamThis is the one that I make.

3. Strawberry ice cream for needy people

This one is a no-mucking around be ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the blender ice cream. You need to work quickly. This also means that your bowls should be in the freezer getting nice and cold and any toppings you want to use have to be ready to go.

Okay, pop 500g frozen strawberries into a food processor with 250ml natural fat-free yoghurt and 1 tablespoon of runny honey.

Whiz it for a few seconds – or until its smooth – and serve immediately.

4. Strawberry JellyThis is the recipe I use.

5.Strawberry Jam

This is my mother’s recipe. She cut it out of a New Idea magazine in 1966 so its still all in pounds and not kilos. Not to worry. I bought a box of jam strawberries at Strawberry Fields on the weekend – 3kgs for $5 – and this is what I did with most of them.

What you need:

  • 2kgs strawberries
  • 2kgs sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 25g butter (optional)

Pop a couple of saucers in the freezer and, if you haven’t already done so, sterilise your jars.

Place the strawberries (hulled and chopped in half – or quartered if they’re massive) into a large pot – you’ll be surprised at how much this makes – with the lemon juice and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft.

Add the sugar and cook over a low heat until every grain has dissolved. (If it hasn’t all dissolved you won’t get a proper set and you might get little clumps of sugar through your jam – and that’s not a good thing.)

Bring to a rapid boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t boil up and over – you don’t want a hot, jammy mess on your stovetop.

Test it by putting a teaspoonful on one of the saucers. Let it settle for about 30 seconds and gently push with your finger. If it wrinkles slightly it’s ready.

Skim the top of any impurities and stir through the butter (if you’re using it). This will help dissolve any remaining scum.

Let the jam settle for 15-30 minutes before spooning (carefully) into sterilised jars.

Note on sterilising jars

You can run them through the hot cycle on a dishwasher and let them air dry or pop them in the oven. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan. Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely – about 10 minutes should do it.

This post also appears on my Sunshine Coast blog…

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Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

15 thoughts

  1. I LOVE strawberries, Jo. Your photos from your picking adventure are just what I needed to get my fix until I can get to the shop for more. Supermarket strawberries aren’t as good but they’ll do. I will never forget the perfect strawberries I ate at a farmer’s market once in Vancouver…. sigh…

    SSG xxx

  2. For years I was a waitress at a chain restaurant whose specialty dessert was strawberry pie. Oh, the berries I have capped and the pies I have made. Most of our berries came from California and some were just huge. Had no idea these fruits…are they even fruit?…are actually part of the rose family. I like them even better now.

  3. Great photos and I got such an education on strawberries. SO much I didn’t know about them! I love it up at Bli Bli – used to have rellies that lived up there. It’s such a beautiful part of the world in those parts. xo

  4. LOVED seeing those fresh, juicy strawberries! We won’t have them here until next May. Ugh! The grocery store strawberries just aren’t the same as fresh-picked. I did learn something from your post (the strawberry is part of the rose family). Thanks!

  5. The colours are beautiful and vibrant, Jo. I can (almost) taste the strawberries. I did not know about Fact 3, a member of the rose family. Excellent icecream is a real treat. I forget about using fruit in cassis. We usually have a bottle in the fridge that seems to last a long time. Great ideas! Beautiful photos!

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