I have fond memories of going strawberry picking with my mom and my brother when I was a kid. Funny thing is that I honestly don't think we did it but once (I really don't remember my mom making strawberry jam more than one summer), but in my head it seems like something we always did. I remember that we went just one road over to the local strawberry patch, the farm was named The Bara Patch; a play on words since the Bara was the family name and berries were their only crop. I also remember that they sold berries by the quart--a heaping quart not a scant one, and that they encouraged their customers to 'taste' as many berries as the customers wanted. Happy customers are repeat customers. Happy customers are also the best advertising. Strawberry picking was fun, and yummy. What a great time!
As my kids got old enough, I began taking them strawberry picking at whatever u-pick places I could find near where we lived at the time. Those memories are not so fond for me, as they revolve more around strict 'no tasting!' rules imposed by the owners of the patches, berries sold by weight, trying to keep my kids from eating too many berries (and getting caught and kicked out by the owner of the patch), and listening to my kids whine about being hot and thirsty. (You know, if you eat juicy berries, you don't get very thirsty.)
In fact, my best strawberry picking memory of the last 12 years (before my own patch got large enough that I didn't need to go elsewhere) is not about picking the berries themselves, but the fact that we ran into a friend and her five children, also picking berries; people that we hadn't seen in a couple of years, since the friend had not re-enrolled her children in the Christian school mine attended but instead had begun homeschooling them. To run into them at that berry patch was the highlight of the day!
Despite what I recall as fairly negative experiences strawberry picking with my children, they still seem pretty fond of the activity. The ones living at home still anxiously await the ripening of our berries. You can't pick a berry until it's red all over, they will seriously tell anyone who might be picking with us; strawberries don't ripen once they are picked, so don't pick the pink or orangish ones, only the ruby red ones. And gently turn over each berry before picking to make sure the tip isn't still white (like you find on the strawberries stocked in grocery stores); that berry isn't fully ripe either.
tempting, but not quite ready;
the large berry still is white at the bottom
This week our berries are finally turning all the way red. DD2 was the first one out to the strawberry bed to start picking.
This first harvest didn't yield much, but it was enough for a batch of strawberry shortcake. Made totally from scratch, with homemade sweetened whipped cream on top. Those didn't last long enough to get a picture of. Probably should go back out to the strawberry bed and pick some more today so I can make another batch. :0)