Strawberries

Local strawberries bring the sweetness of summer to the table.



Photo by Laura Petrilla

It’s June, and in western Pennsylvania, that means the short (but oh-so-sweet) strawberry season is upon us. It’s time to get local berries, especially since the harvest is normally over by the end of the month. At no other time can you find strawberries like this—ripe, fragrant, juicy and perfectly sweet—and they really don’t need much to enhance their flavor. Eat them plain, use them to make strawberry shortcake (see p. 76 for Chris Fennimore’s recipe), slice them and serve over vanilla ice cream or dip them in a bowl of melted chocolate.

Originally, strawberries were tiny, wild and extremely delicate. The fruit’s first improvement occurred in the 17th century, when a natural hybrid was created after two New World species combined.

F. virginiana, the first species, was discovered in the colonies, where the American Indians ate it fresh or dried. The second species, F. chiloensis, a larger and juicer type with pineapple overtones, was carried back to France by an officer who discovered it at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile. European plant-breeders used this larger, sturdier berry to create new varieties.

In 1823, a British hybrid called the Keens’ Seedling trumped them all for size and flavor, and became the plant from which almost every modern strawberry descended.

By the 1940s, California established a strawberry industry that continues to dominate the market today (80 percent of domestic strawberries are grown there); this has turned out to be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it means you can buy strawberries year-round, but on the other hand, berries that can survive cross-country shipping are picked before their peak and will never truly taste great. In addition, industrial-sized strawberry fields are sprayed many times with noxious agricultural chemicals, which is just one more reason to support local growers, who generally use a variety of controls to manage weeds, pests and other factors that can damage the crop.

This month, visit one of the city’s farmers markets, and bring home berries that were picked that same morning.

Here’s a handy lineup of strawberry-focused farms and festivals to help you enjoy the local crop while it lasts. Harvest usually begins around Memorial Day and lasts through the end of June. If you’re interested in the pick-your-own option, call ahead or check individual websites for dates and times.
 

Harvest Valley Farms

The King family uses sustainable farming practices (meaning that they use the least amount of pesticides necessary) to grow strawberries. Located about 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, the 140-acre farm’s store sells freshly picked berries as well as homemade jam. Harvest Valley strawberries are also sold at many local farmers markets, including East Liberty (Mondays, 3:30-7 p.m.), Market Square (Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and the Monroeville Lions Farmers Market at Gateway High School (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). The farm also offers a CSA with pick-up sites around the city, and, of course, strawberries are included in the baskets.

Harvest Valley Farm, 125 Ida Lane, Valencia; 724/443-5869; Harvest Valley Farm Market and Bakery, 6003 Cunningham Road, Gibsonia; 724/898-3276; harvestvalleyfarms.com.

Triple B Farms

The Beinlich family has been growing strawberries for more than two decades. At their Farm Market (open daily), you can pick up juicy berries, strawberry jam and homemade white-chocolate fudge with strawberries. The farm offers a pick-your-own strawberries option between Memorial Day and the end of June (lasting about three to three-and-one-half weeks). Visit during the annual Strawberry Festival Weekend (June 11-12) to take a hayride through the strawberry patch, participate in fun children’s programs and enjoy treats like homemade strawberry shortcake.

823 Berry Lane, Monongahela; 724/258-3557; triplebfarms.com.
 

Trax Farms  

This farm, located 14 miles south of Pittsburgh, allows visitors to pick their own strawberries and hosts a Strawberry Festival (June 10-12): Crowds come with the kids to take advantage of pony rides, a petting zoo, a balloon artist and a tent with children’s activities. A variety of strawberry treats are available, including sundaes, milkshakes, slushies, shortcake and fresh strawberries dipped in milk chocolate. The market, which features freshly grown produce, a bakery, a deli and a gift shop, also sells strawberries during the season.

528 Trax Road, Finleyville; 412/835-3246; traxfarms.com.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.
Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

A proposed route for new electric buses will connect 30,000 people throughout 24 neighborhoods.
Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” a movie based on the best-selling comedic novel, will begin filming in the ‘Burgh next month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

The desire for more a year ago helped fuel the Penguins’ quest to repeat this season. Should their thirst for yet another Cup prove as unquenchable next season, there’s no limit to what they might yet achieve. Even a Three-peat.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

You’ll definitely want to pin these new summer wedding trends to your Pinterest board.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module