Earlier this year, my crew and I went down to Florida to spend time in the strawberry fields with Florida Strawberry Growers Association. There is something amazing about seeing all of these beautiful, fresh berries growing and being ready to eat, simply by snapping them off its plant. The care and passion that goes into growing these berries is something that most of us never get to see first-hand, and I'm hoping that I can convey some of the most exciting things that I witnessed and have learned! Plus I visited with Sue Harrel, FSGA Marketing Director, as well as other informed and passionate Florida strawberry growers, all of whom helped us really dig into what it takes to make the best tasting strawberries in the USA! Make sure you take a look at this rare behind-the-scenes look into everything that it takes to grow Florida strawberries for all of us! See the variety of videos to the right.
Many of the strawberries that we find at the store are different varieties. What we typically don't know is how long it took to perfect these berries, as it starts with small plants being grown in a greenhouse, carefully, making sure that they'll grow to be sweet, flavorful and withstand unpredictable weather patterns. Farming is no easy task, and the amount of time, energy and even money that goes into producing a crop is staggering. That's why it's important that when growers, or farmers, put a year into growing a crop, we need to make sure its going to be delicious and something that we discerning consumers are going to love! This year, they are also unveiling the new WHITE strawberry! This is years in the making and has a unique taste all of its own. It has a crunchy taste, almost like a pineapple, and is so unusually delicious! It takes a bite to understand how flavorful and different this strawberry really is - so also request these white strawberries next time you're at the store!
When you purchase strawberries from Florida, you know you're getting the best of the bunch – ones that are the most delicious, most sweet, most healthy, and most likely to be the one that makes you and your family go WOW! There's a reason why Florida strawberries are unique and different, and it starts with where they're grown! The area of the country is situated in just the right way – the climate gets warm, and cool, but not too hot and not too cold. The soil and climate of the area around Plant City, Florida in particular is exceptional for strawberries. A long time ago, Mr. Henry Plant recognized that these berries were absolutely divine, and he created a way to get them up and down the Eastern corridor. He created a railroad that would transport these berries to all of the other folks who were buried in the snow along the east coast. The train would bring these baskets of strawberries to their markets, and soon everyone was able to enjoy some Florida strawberries and delight in the fact that these delicious bites of heaven were now available.
Every year they celebrate the strawberry season with a STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL, and people come from all over to enjoy strawberries in everything! Strawberry shakes, strawberry salads, strawberry BBQ, strawberry ice cream sundaes, strawberry tacos, strawberry sandwiches and, of course, delicious plain strawberries! Big stars come in, too, to sing and celebrate with the enthusiastic strawberry lovers. This happens typically in February, and I can't wait to attend this myself! I had one of the best strawberry shakes OF MY LIFE when I was there last time, and trust me when I say it was a special treat I'll never forget!
Plant City, as it became known after Mr. Plant, became the USA Winter Strawberry Capital of the USA, and soon after, the Florida strawberries became known as the most mouth-watering berries anyone could get. They are only available now, however, and they're being picked and harvested throughout the winter months, some plants producing berries for the entire season! Make sure you start looking for these berries at the local stores near you, and if you can't find them, ask for them! You'll be glad you did – and glad you had a sweet taste of the Florida strawberry season and strawberries from the Winter Capital of the USA!