Strawberries win as Sierra Harvest’s ‘Harvest of the Month’ for October |

Strawberries win as Sierra Harvest’s ‘Harvest of the Month’ for October

Strawberries are Sierra Harvest's choice for October's "Harvest of the Month."
Submitted Photo |

Strawberries are not exactly the traditional harbingers of autumn.

When getting geared up for soup season, roasted root vegetables and the ubiquitous pumpkin pie, strawberries don’t even register a blip on the scale of harvest abundance that comes with the changing of the leaves.

Or do they?

Thanks to Sierra Harvest, 6,500 local students have experienced the versatile strawberry as part of their autumn during October’s Harvest of the Month program.

With two main “types” of strawberries — June bearing and ever-bearing — you have one guess as to which type is making fruit here in the sunset of the farming season.

If you guessed ever-bearing, you are excellent at deductive reasoning!

The ever-bearing strawberry is what allows California to produce 88 percent of these berries for the U.S. market, grown year round.

With variety names such as “Albion” and “Seascape,” you can probably also make an educated guess about where these varieties do best.

The California coast is the perfect climate for growing strawberries, but they also fare well here in the foothills.

In our area, strawberries are at their peak in the spring and fall — and are at the farmer’ market now.

Strawberries are an excellent crop to purchase locally, and to grow at home.

As a repeat offender on the “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide intensive crops put out by the Environmental Working Group, conventional strawberries have been tested to contain 13 or more pesticide residues.

That’s quite a chemical load for one little berry!

Additionally, strawberries spoil quickly and taste better when they haven’t been refrigerated.

These are pretty compelling reasons to get your strawberries locally!

In a home garden, most strawberry plants will perform for roughly three years before needing to be replaced.

Many commercial farms treat strawberry plants as annuals and just grow them for one season.

Strawberries can be planted here now, or in the early spring.

With an unmistakable, fragrant and memorable smell, strawberries capture the essence of the season.

The berries are so fragrant, in fact. that the Latin name is fragaria.

As the temperatures begin to dip, fall and winter hardy greens are crisp, sweet and delicious.

There are many salad recipes with spinach and strawberries, here’s an adapted version with kale adapted from the Cookin’ Canuck (www.cook

Strawberry Kale Salad with Feta

The salad:

4-5 large kale leaves, stems removed, leaves chopped (about 5 cups)

1 ½ cups sliced strawberries

1 ½ oz. (1/4 cup) crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons toasted chopped hazelnuts

The dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper


The salad:

Place the kale in a colander and massage in warm running water until tender.

In a large bowl, combine the kale, strawberries, feta cheese and hazelnuts. Toss gently.

The dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Amanda Thibodeau is Farm to School Coordinator and Food Love Project Director at Sierra Harvest.

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