One of the biggest perks of living in the Garden State (well, hold on, maybe it is actually THE biggest perk) is when the pick-your-own season begins. Most farms usually start around May with snap peas and (ahem) straaawberries, and end in the fall with apples and pumpkins (and, usually, apple cider donuts which, if they started to grow on trees, would be very bad news for my waistline). Some even go into the winter months and include festive Christmas decorations, though I wouldn't recommend that you bite into a coniferous tree any time soon.
Surrounded by farmland (for the most part), cute Colin and I have our pick of all the best areas to pick your own fruits and vegetables. And if it's not available for picking, they most likely have it for sale on their stands, and the prices are always pretty damn hard (if not impossible) to beat. Besides, this is local eating/support at its very core: who wants to eat/buy globe-traveled produce, sitting around in the grocery store, when there's just-picked NJ asparagus and green beans?!
This super-warm weekend in the end of May, we decided it was the perfect time to visit Terhune Orchards, a family-owned farm in Princeton, NJ, and pick some sun-ripened strawberries: YUM!
At $3.25 a pound (with a $4.00 advance charge that gets credited to your total amount), we ended up paying about $14.00 for four over-flowing quarts. That price, my friends, cannot be challeged.
These deep-red supersweet berries were everywhere, the best ones hiding underneath the plants wide, flat leaves. Cute Colin finds a baby berry, which, despite their mini-size, are packed with flavor.
We found some ca-razy shapes mixed in the bunch, including this little guy who very much resembled, well, a little guy.
At the end of a very hot picking session, we walked away with lots of berries, the sweet smell invading every part of my car on the drive home. Seriously though, try to tell me otherwise, but I'm pretty sure there's no better aroma than a fresh, NJ strawberry. Never rivaled, never mimicked even by your favorite lip balm or ice cream flavor. (Though, I don't know, I might have to concede to The Bent Spoon on their unmatched NJ strawberry sorbet!)
Even though the tendency is to ask "What can we make?" after a pick-your-own adventure (perhaps shortcake or, as Terhune suggested via print-out recipe, Fresh Strawberry Muffins?!), sometimes the very best way you can enjoy your harvest is to leave them as is, no modification required. After all, the pure summery-sweet goodness is pretty hard to beat.