Strawberry harvest time – it’s like Christmas in June (or all summer, if you planted a day-neutral or everbearing variety). Harvest time may still be a few weeks away, but it’s never too early to start planning, especially when it comes to strawberries.
How To Harvest Strawberries
It can be tempting to harvest your berries as quickly as possible, but there is a right and a wrong way to pick ripe strawberries.
The Right Way to Harvest Strawberries
Your berries will ripen about a month after your plants bloom. The ripe berries are very tempting for pests like birds and squirrels, so you may want to consider covering your Minigarden with a light bird netting.
You’ll know your berries are ready to harvest when they are fully red – green-tipped berries aren’t ready, and dark red berries may be overripe. If your berries are ready, follow these steps:
- Separate leaves gently with your hands to unearth fully red berries.
- Pull berries by the stem, not by the berry. Pulling by the berry may cause bruising – instead, pinch the stem with your thumbnail about ½ inch away from the top of the berry.
- Place berries gently in a basket. Don’t put too many berries in one basket – this can bruise the berries on the bottom.
- Look for berry remnants. These remnants can rot and ruin the rest of your harvest.
- Check your plants every 3 days for newly ripe berries. Overripe berries will rot and spoil your plant. Expect 2-3 weeks of harvest from each variety.
Storing Your Strawberry Harvest
If you’re not planning on eating your berries right away, it’s best to harvest them in the morning when the berries are cool. Put them straight into the refrigerator without washing them – only wash your berries right before you plan to eat them.
Unwashed berries can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days. They can also be frozen whole for up to 2 months if you simply have too many berries to get through (a distinct possibility).
What To Do With Your Strawberry Harvest
There are tons of things you can do with your strawberry crop! We’ll share more of our favorite recipes when harvest time arrives, but for now, let these strawberry classics tickle your taste buds.
Homemade strawberry jam is the ultimate summer classic. It’s the perfect way to enjoy your delicious harvest year-round, and it’s an even better way to get your kids involved in the kitchen!
Try this recipe.
The trick with making jam that lasts is to properly sterilize your jars. Here’s how.
If you need a simple but show-stopping dessert (or any dessert period, no special circumstances required), strawberry shortcake is a great way to showcase your berry harvest. It’s easy to make, and it looks great.
Here’s a simple recipe you can follow.
When life throws you strawberries, make lemonade! Why should lemons get to have all the fun? Strawberry lemonade is just as refreshing as pure lemonade, but it’s a bit sweeter and is sure to please everyone.
Learn how to make your own with this recipe.
Stay tuned for more fresh strawberry recipes when harvest time arrives! If you treat your strawberry plants with the TLC they deserve, you can look forward to a plentiful strawberry harvest – and tons of strawberry goodies on your table.
National Gardening Association Editors. “Care and Harvest of Strawberries”. Garden.org.