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 Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

Thanks to Rick Sebak, we have some rare pictures of the view from the top.
Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

The movie is the first non-documentary to focus solely on the pop artist’s life.
How to Build a Playground in Pittsburgh in Less Than a Day

How to Build a Playground in Pittsburgh in Less Than a Day

The state-of-the-art playspace is expected to keep more than 100 children entertained.
Funny: Sofia Vergara Describes Life with Steelers-Fanatic Hubby

Funny: Sofia Vergara Describes Life with Steelers-Fanatic Hubby

Joe Manganiello's wife told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that she's learned to accept his Steelers' obsession but also admits “in the beginning it was kinda weird.”

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

The things that are best about us? They’re not things. They’re ways.
Chris Kunitz: The Penguins' Unassuming Hitmaker

Chris Kunitz: The Penguins' Unassuming Hitmaker

Chris Kunitz wants to dish out a couple hundred more hits, play a couple hundred more games and win a couple more Cups.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

Thanks to Rick Sebak, we have some rare pictures of the view from the top.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Finn and chef de cuisine Becca Hegarty to bring salads, sandwiches, house-baked bread, wine and more to the refurbished Café Carnegie.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

The historic (and purportedly haunted) Harmony Inn is a fine stop for drinks and food.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

The puck drops for the opening of training camp on Friday, and once that happens the Penguins must transition from “champions” into “defending champions.”

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Work It

Work It

A new handbag from Sandra Cadavid’s is perfect for work — or play.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

Reviews of the "Magnificent Seven" remake and "Storks," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

Also: If you’re looking to redo a room to invite relaxation, PPG Paints promises a wide variety of soothing colors for 2017.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Ken Gormley began his new tenure by delivering good news to University employees.

Comments