Earlier this month, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go strawberry picking up at Whittamore’s Farm. This is a popular place to pick strawberries since it’s just outside of Toronto. Of course I said yes! Growing up, my family had a strawberry patch in the garden. I was easily entertained as I watched the flowers transform into small white strawberries which would eventually ripen to a red colour.
Unfortunately, the farm decided to close on the day we were scheduled to go. Bummer! We still aren’t sure why it closed (perhaps it’s because it had rained a couple days before and the fields were muddy) but strawberry picking this year was not to be. The season is also very short (just a month or so) so we didn’t have a chance to reschedule.
Lucky for me, there are plenty of farmer’s markets in downtown Toronto that sell fresh Ontario strawberries. I was at the Sick Kid’s farmer’s market and could smell the sweet aroma of strawberries wafting from the baskets they had on display. I just had to go buy one.
At $5/pint, local Ontario strawberries are a bit of a luxury but given the fact that the season is so short, and they are generally more flavourful and sweeter than the strawberries from California, I don’t mind paying more (about twice as much). Plus I’m supporting local farmers. Now depending on the growing season, there are some years where the strawberries aren’t a sweet as others. But not this year. I even went to the grocery store and picked up a pint of strawberries from California so I could compare (of course).
The Ontario strawberries this year were definitely more sweet and flavourful than the ones from California. They are also more small and delicate. I would eat these strawberries on their own or use them for garnishing cakes and tarts. The California strawberries are huge by comparison! I also noticed that they had less flavour. But they are available year round whereas Ontario strawberries are only available for a couple months in the summer.
Do you prefer local or imported strawberries? What do you usually buy?