If the beginning of summer on Long Island had a flavor, it would probably taste like strawberries. As June rolls around, signs on every main road on the East End point in the direction of U-Pick strawberries. It’s a quintessential mark of the season and a patiently-awaited tradition for many. Simply put, strawberry picking on Long Island is an annual must-do!
Each year, families and strawberry fans visit Long Island’s U-Pick strawberry fields in droves, eager to get their hands on the freshest, juiciest berries of the lot, and experience the distinct sweetness of just-harvested strawberries while they are at their peak. Depending on the weather, the short-lived season only lasts from late May through early July at the latest.
Last year was my first time strawberry picking on Long Island in a long time. It was only the second day that Lewin Farms opened their U-Pick field, and already dozens of people were lined up at the farm stand with armfuls of strawberries surely destined for jam, pies, ice cream and cereal bowls.
I enjoyed it so much that this year I took a ride out to call dibs on the first available strawberries of the season at Glover Farms in Brookhaven, N.Y. Watch the video below to get a peek at my visit to the strawberry fields.
Bright red throughout and still warm from the sun, freshly picked strawberries taste as it they have already been marinating in sugar syrup for days. There’s nothing that compares. Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to the modified produce that they sell at the grocery store that it’s almost like a eating a totally different fruit.
When something tastes so good naturally, it’s best to enjoy it simply. That’s Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht’s theory, farmer at Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market in Riverhead, which offers strawberry picking. After you go strawberry picking on Long Island at Garden of Eve or any of the U-Pick fields below, you can enjoy her recipe for fresh strawberries with cream when you get home.
Fresh Strawberries with Cream
Recipe provided by Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht of Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market
- Wash and hull strawberries (remove tops), cut into quarters lengthwise. Toss with a sprinkle of granulated sugar.
- Mix approximately one cup whole cream (ideally from grassfed cows) with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon sugar.
- Whip till stiff and spoon over strawberries. Delicious!
- Eat plain, with shortbread if available, or with any fluffy vanilla flavor cake or cookie.
Strawberry picking on Long Island: U-pick strawberry farms
62 Bellview Avenue, Center Moriches, NY
Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm
2287 Sound Avenue, Calverton, NY
Strawberry picking tips
Strawberries with green or white coloring do not yield as much flavor and will not continue to ripen after they are picked, so look for the biggest, reddest, juiciest ones that you can find and use them as soon as possible.
Also check the farm’s website for field rules; some require you to bring your own container, while others only allow you to use the ones that they provide. They generally charge by the pint or the pound.
Strawberry picking on Long Island is only available for about a month, so go out and get them while you can! Not only is it a great way to support local farms and gain a closer connection to the food we eat, it can also be a fun lesson for children.
Strawberry festivals on Long Island, 2017
Nassau Country Strawberry Festival, June 1-4
Stop by the Strawberry Festival in Bellmore the first weekend of June for crafts, food and fun.
Admission ($5) includes hayride, kids play area and access to the u-pick organic strawberry patch. Visit website for more information and to register in advance.
Benner’s Farm Strawberry Fair, June 10-11
Guests are invited to the East Setauket farm to take a step back in time with old-time tunes and old-fashioned games such as sack races, spoon races and funny face competitions, all while enjoying strawberry treats!
Mattituck Lions 63nd Strawberry Festival, June 15-18
The go-to strawberry festival on Long Island, the Mattituck festival offers carnival rides, arts and crafts fair, live bands and plenty of strawberry goodies including strawberry shortcakes, pies, chocolate-dipped strawberries and non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiris. The night ends with fireworks Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday night, also known as “Hulling Night,” guests are welcome to volunteer and be a part of the tradition of preparing the strawberries for the following days.
What’s your favorite place to go strawberry picking on Long Island? Let us know in the comments!