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. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'

    Stage

    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  2. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway

    Stage

    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  3. A scene from "Epiphany."
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22

    Events

    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21

    Events

    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media