Anyone who has been perusing the fruit and vegetable sections of supermarkets or farmer’s markets the past two weeks should be aware that this is prime strawberry season in New Jersey. Although the Garden State is a major producer of blueberries and cranberries, strawberry fields are less predominant. Indeed, the total number of acres harvested for strawberries in 2012 was 261, down from 281 in 2007.
In 2012, there were 157 farms that grew strawberries. In 2007, there were 198. Indeed, there were almost as many farms growing raspberries — 124 — as strawberries; however, the total of 78 acres was significantly lower.
The state Department of Agriculture warns consumers to choose berries based on color and fragrance, not size. Strawberries do not ripen after picking, so they should be immediately put in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption as possible.