Did you know that there are two types of strawberries? If you’re as old as I am, then you probably remember when we only had BC strawberries for a few short weeks in early June and recent summers may have left you scratching your head as you stood in the market in late August, September and even into October, pondering the sign proclaiming “local strawberries”. The Albion, or “ever-bearing” strawberries, are fairly new to the Fraser Valley and produce the first flush of strawberries you enjoyed in the last weeks, and are now just resting for a bit. While not as prolific a producer as the June-bearing strawberries, starting up again in early July they send out runners and sprout blossoms all summer, producing waves of sun-kissed, firm berries as long as the weather holds.
The June-bearing plants have just started producing (yes, I realize it’s still May) and enthusiastically pump out the most delicious, juicy, tender berries for the next 3 weeks or so, and then, having exhausted all their energy, go dormant until next spring. While all the local berries are delicious, if you are planning to make jams, sauces or jellies this year, then June-bearing berries are perfect! Packed full of flavour and super juicy, the softer June Strawberries are perfect for making preserves. Best enjoyed within a day or two, these fresh-picked berries are the ones you want to put up or freeze now to savor a taste of spring when the winter rains arrive (if they last that long in your pantry or freezer, of course). And joined together with Fraser Valley rhubarb, you’ve got a match made in springtime heaven!
If you need some inspiration, here are a few tempting preserve recipes to get your creative strawberry juices flowing:
Simple Strawberry Vanilla Sauce