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. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Tuesday May 30

    Events

    Finding Neverland: The hit Broadway show follows the story behind playwright J.M. Barrie as he struggles to find inspiration to create Peter Pan, until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, …

    Mitchell Wray, Jordan Cole, Finn Faulconer and Ben Krieger as the Llewelyn Davies Boys in the National Tour of Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  2. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  3. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

    Soft pretzels are displayed with a beer at the Features Gastropub in the Riverview 14 GDX  theater in Gibsonton, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.   The 5,900-square-foot Features Gastropub open in the . This element of the project is the brainchild of Philadelphia chef Brian Duffy, who appears frequently on NBC's The Today Show and the Spike TV show Bar Rescue
  4. From the food editor: I love that food is a huge part of Master of None's transcendent second season

    Cooking

    Deep into a late-night binge of Master of None, Aziz Ansari's Netflix series that returned for its second season May 12, I realized I was laying as far back on my couch as possible, blanket clutched up to my chin, eyebrows permanently raised.

    Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Arnold (Eric Wareheim) eat lunch in Modena, Italy, in the second season of "Master of None."
  5. Three 'MasterChef' contestants from the Tampa Bay area talk cooking inspiration and more

    Cooking

    When Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef begins its eighth season tonight, the Tampa Bay area will have three contestants to root for. A marketing director from Tampa, a dentist and Palm Harbor native, and an employee for a steel supply company are all trying to impress a trio of judges with their home-cooking skills.

    Jeff Philbin, from Tampa, left, Palm Harbor native Paola Annoni Patel, and Danny Flores, of Land 'O Lakes, will be competing on the season premiere of "Masterchef."