PLANT CITY/DOVER, FLA — Fresh strawberries in February? February is fabulous in Florida where strawberry farmers are harvesting their sweet winter crop and shipping handpicked fruit to key markets.
“Strawberries dipped in chocolate or served straight up with a dollop of whipped cream are sure to please the special Valentine in your life,” said Sue Harrell, director of marketing for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA). “It’s a happy coincidence that Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular celebrations in the country, falls during the peak of our season,” she continued.
“Acreage this year is estimated at 11,000 – about 1,000 acres over last year. Florida’s cool nights and warm days have made the berries particularly sweet and the shipping quality is excellent,” said Ted Campbell, Executive Director of the Association.
Strawberry farmers begin harvesting in November and continue until the end of March. Marketing programs are giving consumers, chefs and caterers the knowledge and opportunity to purchase Florida’s flavorful, healthy and delicious berries in the winter when they least expect them.
“We’re celebrating February as Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month to call special attention to winter strawberries. We’re getting the word out this season to as many audiences as possible,” Harrell concluded.
States east of the Mississippi are target markets for Florida strawberries.
After experiencing two consecutive years of freezing temperatures and heavy rainfall, growers are optimistic that mild weather will continue through the harvest season.
Strawberry tips and facts:
- Eating eight strawberries a day has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve memory and heart health.
- When you’re on the run, take strawberries with you in a plastic container or sandwich bag.
- Strawberries taste best at room temperature.
- Strawberries are picked at full ripeness. Unlike some other fruits, they don’t ripen once they are harvested.
- A dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon or orange juice will bring out the flavor of strawberries.
- Strawberries are the only fruit that have seeds on the outside —about 200 of them. Each seed has the potential to become a new variety. Strawberry seeds are all those little bumpy spots on the surface of the berry.
More information about Florida strawberries including recipes, news, events and behind the scenes stories are available on the Strawberry Sue blog.