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Recent Cold Snaps Helped State’s Strawberry Crop

Tuesday, April 09, 2013 | 09:22am

NASHVILLE –   Springtime cold snaps make strawberry lovers quake in their boots over the quantity and quality of the crop. Fortunately, Tennessee’s strawberry growers report that, if anything, the weather so far has only benefitted the burgeoning berries.

“All fruits sweeten best in hot, sunny weather,” says Pamela Bartholomew, marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, “but Tennessee’s cool, wet spring has actually prolonged the growing process. The cold has thinned out some strawberries, but that’s actually a good thing, too, since the remaining berries will get a bigger share of their plant’s nourishment. It all adds up to a great crop!”

Strawberries generally are available first in West Tennessee in mid-April, then work their way across the state. Early varieties of strawberries are ready now in West and Middle Tennessee, and will continue to be available to the end of May as later varieties reach maturity. In East Tennessee, strawberries are usually available throughout the month of May and the early part of June.

Always call a pick your own farm before visiting any farm to get current hours of operation, because days and hours of operation will depend on the weather, numbers of pickers and other variables. Ask whether to bring your own containers, get price information for strawberries that are self-picked as opposed to pre-picked by the grower, and prices for various size containers.

Berries typically are sold by the pound; a quart equals 1 1/2 pounds of fresh berries. Remember that heaping berries more than 5 inches deep in a container bruises the lower berries. Plastic dishpans, metal oven pans with 3” tall sides and large pots are good choices.

Visit the home page and click on the strawberries image to be directed to a statewide directory of local strawberry patches. For tips on choosing and storing fresh, local berries, click “Cook Now” and then click “Helpful Hints.” The newest Pick Tennessee Products recipe on the website is Cinna-Berry Bread, which features fresh strawberries. For more recipes using Tennessee strawberries and other seasonal or artisan farm products, click on “Cook Now.”

Cinna-Berry Bread

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups diced strawberries
1 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two loaf pans and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and oil, stirring just until moistened. Fold in the strawberries and almonds.
Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans 5 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks before slicing and serving.

Note: These loaves freeze well. Use within 3 months for best quality.


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