Make us your home page
Instagram

Get ready for the Florida Strawberry Festival with some fun facts

The new strawberry cultivar, Florida Radiance, was developed at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. 
Photo provided by the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

The new strawberry cultivar, Florida Radiance, was developed at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. Photo provided by the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

If you're like me, you're buying them two or three containers at a time right now.

It's strawberry season, and the fruit is abundant. The Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off this week as well, and we have little red jewels coming out of our ears.

Food editor Michelle Stark has been home making quick strawberry jam, and has the recipe for you in a quick how-two video on our Tampa Bay Times — Food Facebook page. And as far as fun, we have everything you need to have a blast at the festival, including an interview with performers Little Big Town and a full schedule of entertainment.

You'll no doubt be popping the sweet treats all over the Plant City festival grounds. That in mind, here are some things you should know about strawberries:

• Florida is actually a challenging place to grow strawberries, food critic Laura Reiley recently reported. It's hot and humid here, and we don't have enough so-called chill hours at night to make the berries happy. Add bugs and rain, and it's not always smooth going.

• They're invented in labs. Scientists at the University of Florida work to create berries that work well in Florida. They have names like the Festival, the Florida Radiance, and the new kid in town, the Sweet Sensation, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the state's strawberry plantings.

• The perfect storage temperature for strawberries is 32 to 36 degrees, according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Use the crisper drawer for the best storage, but they only last for seven days under ideal conditions, so eat up.

• I always eat mine straight out of the fridge, but apparently that's a rookie move. The association says strawberries have the best flavor at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to eat them. And don't wash them or take off the caps until you're ready to bite.

• The strawberry milkshake at Parkesdale Farm Market is really, really good. I haven't had one in a long time, but I can still taste it as I sit here and type. It tastes extra good if you sit in the giant strawberry throne at the farms while drinking it. It tastes extra-extra good if you wear one of the prop crowns and take a photo.

Get ready for the Florida Strawberry Festival with some fun facts 03/02/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 2, 2017 4:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With the Sept. 29 opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  2. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 22

    Events

    Arcade Fire: The wildly acclaimed indie rock outfit tour in support of their fifth album, Infinite Content. Presumably, the band will also play songs from their first few albums. Wolf Parade opens. 7 p.m., University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $35-$75. (813) 974-3004.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Musician Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs onstage during The 24th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Shrine Auditorium on December 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Radio.com)
  4. What the 10 terms Merriam-Webster just added to the dictionary say about our foodie culture

    Cooking

    Joining "troll" (as in, a rude person on the Internet, not a bridge-dwelling creature), "alt-right" and "dog whistle," 10 food-related words were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this week. That's out of 250 new terms, a pretty good ratio that signals the ongoing shift toward a more food-obsessed culture, one …

    IPA is one of the words recently added to the dictionary.