Strawberry Days of June

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One of the jobs I had as a teenager was picking strawberries. Just around the corner and up the highway was a huge fruit and vegetable market with acres of strawberry fields.

Once they started to ripen I’d arrive at the crack of dawn to pick them. We’d assemble the quart containers into the flats and then the farmer would take us out to the area that was to be picked that day. We’d work until the area was cleared and get paid by the quart.

It wasn’t big money but if I was diligent and worked steadily I wouldn’t do bad for about 4 hours of work. The season lasted about 3-4 weeks. I was able to pick up some other work with the market over the summer. They kept the pickers on who they felt were good workers.

That summer I had three jobs.

I’d leave the strawberry fields and head back down the highway to the motel on the corner. Any of the units that had been rented the night before needed cleaning. There I got paid by the hour. I had enough of a system going, most of the units took me fifteen minutes to change the beds, tidy up, do the bathroom and vacuum.

I’d head home for lunch and then head back up the highway, only this time into town to babysit a couple of kids for 4 - 5 hours. I didn’t have much free time that summer. That was okay, I loved the independence of having money in the bank and not having to ask my parents for things.

Strawberries at Home

My parents had some strawberries planted in our garden. There was enough of a yield off them usually to use while they were fresh. There was always at least one occurrence of strawberry shortcake with loads of whipped cream.

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Mother would go to the market and usually pick her own to get about 3-4 flats. There’s 8 quarts in a flat.

One flat would go into strawberry jam for the winter. The rest would be husked, spread out on cookie trays and set in the freezer until they were frozen. Then we’d bag them up and put them back into the freezer. Freezing them individually kept them from forming a big clump.

During the winter we’d bring them out and let them thaw in a bowl. The juices would come out into the bowl and the strawberries would be really soft. There were several ways mother would serve them, the most popular was when she’d simmer the juices and add some sugar to thicken it into a syrup.

The syrup and strawberries would then be served over ice cream. I had a fondness then for neopolitan ice cream. It was vanilla, strawberry and chocolate all in the same container. Often it was vanilla that was in the house. We had a choice of what was in the house or none.

Strawberries Now

As an adult, I’ve only really enjoy strawberries when they are in season. My neighbour right across the road has several acres and a fruitstand that is super busy this time of year. I’ve not been over to get any this year yet. Maybe next week.

Last year they dropped a few quarts onto my step for me which was really kind of them. When I do go over to pick some up, they insist on giving me the friends and neighbours price. So I usually chat for a while until they get busy with a customer and drop some money into the kitty. I really appreciate their kindness, but they are in business.

NOTE: Images from Pixaby

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Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms and enjoys creating books you use like journals, notebooks, coloring books etc.

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28 comments
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I like eating the berries way more than I liked picking them. My Mom took us when we were kids. I just felt like mosquito bait the whole time.
!CTP

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repellent was always important to use and have along with.

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When I was a kid we lived next to some empty land that had blackberries. We would go out and fill our buckets with blackberries. Then our mother would make jam and pies. Good times.

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there was woods and a stream behind our house ... there was a meadow where blackberries could be found and wild strawberries. The wild strawberries were small but super sweet

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Definitely something I miss about summers in the UK, is strawberry picking.
And for sure, we used to eat so many haha, great memories.

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When i was picking for the ones mother got, I would eat some. But when I was getting paid to pick, no way ... that would be like picking for free :)

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i love strawberry.
Unfortunately, here in Brazil it is very difficult to find such beautiful strawberries at any time of the year and when we do, it ends up being quite expensive.
Excellent post.
Thanks for sharing.
!1UP
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OH if they don't grow locally that doesn't surprise me. In the off season we can buy them shipped in from California. The price isn't expensive but the flavour isn't there.

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Three jobs is pretty impressive, the most I ever had in the summer holidays was two. And instead of strawberry picking, it was raspberry picking, as I loved rasps hehe!

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just worked out they were jobs that could be fit into a day.

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Your strawberry story reminded me of the rare occasions that my mother would bake a shortcake (more like a biscuit - a LARGE biscuit since it was baked in a round cake pan), slice it in half while still warm, slather it with butter, cut it up, put a piece in a bowl with strawberries and ice cream. That would be our dinner that night. For us kids, it was the best dinner ever! It didn't happen often, but when it did, we were in heaven!

When I was a kid, there were fields full of wild strawberries we would pick. They were really small, but if we picked enough, my mother would make the same shortcake for dessert.

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Strawberry suppers in this area are a popular church fundraiser during strawberry season. They usually get a good turnout. I see they have returned this year as I've come across some notices on social media.

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Yum! Strawberries! They've always felt like a special treat to me.

Like @epodcaster, my fruit picking experiences were in the blackberry bushes. It was a Sunday ritual, when my dad and brother would be playing cricket, I'd be picking with the other kids and our mums. We'd have used icecream boxes and fill them up to the top.

My mum would make apple and blackberry pies afterwards. Her pastry is now such a fond memory. She had cold hands, I did not, and that seemed to be the magic behind great pastry making. Lol!

It is so lovely to wander down memory lane and remember those special moments. Thank you for leading the way, your share (and the comments here) took me on a beautiful little tour. Even the scratches and stings from the nettles are making me smile. 💛

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mmm apple and blackberry sounds delicious.

My dad used to bake wonderful pies. He said he thought the secret to the crust was minimal handling and the butter really cold when he blended it in.

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Hahaha you appreciate their kindness but they are busy. Like my mother would always say, "Business succeeds because friends and family pay for services rendered". This is a beautiful strawberry story. Talking about your youth made me see a different side to you. You worked so hard and you spent a lot of time with people. That's a good thing.

I love strawberries too but sadly they aren't grown in our country.

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Ah some day you may be able to enjoy the treat of having them. They are sweet and juicy when fresh. That is one reason I only eat them in season. When they are imported they are usually picked a bit before they ripen to allow for shipping time and they just don't get the burst of juice and flavour the freshly picked does.

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Oh my! Reading your explanation makes me want it 😄😄 I've eaten strawberry ice cream but I'm guessing it's never the same taste.

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depends on the quality of it. Most commercially produced strawberry ice cream uses more artificial flavours than authentic so you're likely correct, it's not the same.

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I thought as much. Thank you for the feedback

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I absolutely love posts like these from you Shadows! I feel like I'm right there with you hehehe but I also feel like I could totally hear you doing this as one of those quick little podcasts that you talked about. and I'd just relax and fall into the memory with you!

I hope you get out to get those strawberries next week! hehehe

and maybe some in the dehydrator??? :)

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(Edited)

the posts into podcasts is still on the table. eventually.

Artemis tells me that dehydrating strawberries doesn't preserve the flavour like it does some other fruits. Freezing is likely best.

she mentioned that dehydrated kiwi tastes more like strawberries than strawberries do when dehydrated.

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You were a diligent young lady @shadowspub, what a beautiful story about strawberries!
I've tried growing them, we have a small patch, but the hungry monkeys pick them as soon as they start ripening, it's really frustrating!
Nothing like cream scones with strawberry jam at teatime. I also like setting it in jelly when making trifle. It's lovely seeing you here again🤗

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sounds like what we did with my parents peas ... they had lots on the vine but somehow couldn't often get enough for dinner off the plants. I'm sure it had nothing to do with us five kids snacking on them.

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