What’s in season – it’s very berry strawberry time!

strawberries-smallThe following is part of an ongoing series of posts tracking Ontario’s foods and what’s currently in season.

After what seemed like an endlessly cool and wet spring, the arrival of summer in Ontario also means the long awaited start of strawberry season.

It’s an eagerly anticipated time of year in Ontario – one that this year took a bit of time to finally roll in. For many, there’s nothing quite like the juicy sweetness of an Ontario strawberry that ripened under our spring sun. I’m definitely a fan!

Our temperatures were often unseasonably low this year, which meant the berries were slower in developing. I think I read the first reports of Ontario strawberries hitting a farmers’ market around the end of May, but that story came with the caveat that the farmer in question was growing them at least partially under plastic coverings to protect them from the weather.

There are berry growers in Ontario now who are planting varieties that mature at different times of the year and who flourish under varying growing conditions. This is in an attempt by farmers to lengthen their season and to improve their ability to provide us with locally grown strawberries for as long as possible.

Nowadays, strawberries are available all year long – and they’re larger and cheaper than I remember them being. When I was growing up, strawberries were a summer treat and during their season, that meant gorging yourself on the succulent berries until you could eat no more. After all, even if you froze them to enjoy during the winter months, they never again tasted as fresh or as good as they did right off the field.

Today, we take the availability of fresh strawberries year round pretty much for granted, as we do many of our fresh foods…but that’s a story of another day and another blog post.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering about my photo and why I would possibly use an image of Swiss strawberries to accompany an article on locally grown Ontario berries, the reasons behind that are simple. I’m in Switzerland this week and strawberries – widely touted here as grown in Switzerland by Swiss farmers – are also in season. I couldn’t resist buying some today and as I quickly polished off that little container, it made me look forward to the Ontario berries I hope will await when I go home next week!

The price of that small box (250 grams) was CHF 4.50 (Swiss Francs), which is roughly $4.75 Canadian. I’d welcome any feedback from those who have current Canadian berry prices at hand in order to establish a comparison.

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