Chow Town

Picking fresh strawberries has its sweet rewards

Each and every summer for the past 10 years, I have yearned and even dreamed of picking fresh strawberries.

The memory of fresh picked strawberries from my youth still teases and tickles my taste buds. Not those cardboard-flavor or worse yet, no-flavor-at- all strawberries that I have experienced after purchasing those gorgeous looking strawberries at the local supermarket.

They are beautiful yes, but with a flavor that disappoints, once again.

The flavor I remember from my childhood is what I was searching for to no avail. Sweet, juice-filled, dripping berries. Do you remember? The kind that are so filled with juice that the juice drips and stains your hands. The flavor so sweet it isn’t necessary to sprinkle the berries with sugar and it is even harder to wait for the shortcake to bake to enjoy the ultimate strawberry dessert.

Trying to locate a berry farm has been a challenge and then when strawberry picking crossed the radar screen of my computer, I was always out of town. One big gift of this crazy Midwest weather this year, is that no one really knows when the growing season is for specific fruits and vegetables.

Finally, I hit the jackpot. Wohletz Farm Fresh just outside of Lawrence has berries and they opened on May 25th. They are anticipating being open for picking for the next three weeks.

The experience was more than I could have ever imagined. It started when I asked my family if they wanted to get up early on Saturday morning and pick strawberries. The answer was a unanimous “Yes!”

That was my first surprise because the stars don’t usually align with such enthusiasm in a household that includes a teenager. Off we trekked on our new adventure. When we arrived at the farm, we met up with another family that we have been friends with for 30 plus years. It is even sweeter to pick strawberries with my business partner who happens to be my BFF and her family.

The farm was bustling when we arrived. We scurried up a short hill, grabbed our boxes and off we went to pick, pick and pick some more. The berries were vibrant red and they seemed to enjoy playing hide and seek with us as we plucked and giggled and plucked again.

The entire process took such a short time that it seemed to end before it had begun. We left the farm with huge smiles of anticipation of what was yet to come.

We arrived home and Saturday chores went by the wayside as we begin prepping the strawberries. Nine jars of jam are setting on my pantry shelves like shining jewels in the dark, insurance that the fond memory of this day will last when the snow and ice have arrived once again.

We enjoyed fresh strawberries all day long and then the showstopper — strawberry shortcake piled high with berries and dollops of whipped cream. Yes, the flavor was all I had dreamed of and the juices dripped down my chin. It was heaven.

You still have time to create your own strawberry memories. Wohletz Farm Fresh is five miles southeast of Lawrence and two miles south of Kansas 10. Visit farm’s

website

for all the picking details and pricing.

Also, call 785-331-3468 before you make the drive out to the farm. They do a terrific job of keeping their recording up to date regarding berry availability.

Roxanne Wyss is one of two individuals that make up The Electrified Cooks. She is the author of 4 cookbooks on the Babycakes treat line of cupcakes and cake pops, and her most recent book is Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. A professional home economist, she develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star, and is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
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