Category: Preserving the Harvest

Seed Saving Starts Now!

Saving Seeds means Saving Life.

I know that sounds dramatic, but saving seeds is a big part of why humans hunkered down into communities and began our long march towards civilization (we’ve still got on our marching boots though, right!?). Variations of those seeds still sustain us today. 

Until a few generations ago, most people planted what they had saved from the last harvest. With a few additions now and then from neighbors or travelers.

But for me and many home gardeners, saving seeds had fallen off our radars. It is making a bit of a comeback and I am encouraging as many people as I can to jump on this bandwagon with me!

To start saving seeds please remember:
Not all seeds are suited for saving!

There’s a simple trick to buying the right seeds so you can save + grow again.

Grow Heirloom varieties, or open pollinated varieties.  Hybrid seeds will not produce the same vegetable that you took the seed from.

Garden Planning, my Favorite!

I love getting those seeds catalogs and will have larger than anticipated bills at a few seed companies once I finalize my orders, but I am proud to be able to skip over a few seed sections because I’ve saved my own seed stock from what I grew last year.

Saving seed is intuitive- if we stop to see the plants we nurture as part of Mother Nature. Everything has a cycle, and the whole reason tomatoes exists is to grow more tomatoes so they make it easy for us. Or as Michael Pollan suggests in a few books, like The Botany of Desire and TED talks, the plants have us working for them.

Back to the real world application of all of this-

We’re half way through one of the coldest Januaries on record across the northern US, so most of us are looking forward to those lazy days of summer even more than normal. Oh Summertime; being surrounded by lush green growth, the sounds of birds chirping and bees buzzing, smelling flowers, picking strawberries warmed by the sun… (the weeding, mosquitoes, heat and humidity have conveniently faded into the back of our memories.)

And this is the moment the seed catalogs begin storming in, right when they know we’re at our weakest, most desperate state. Well played seed companies, well played.

The colorful pages of these catalogs offer escape from the winter weather and promise sunny days filled with so much growth it overwhelms our senses, often including our common sense.

A sample of saved seeds from my garden. Picked, dried, stored and ready to plant.

As much as I still revel in these catalogs and all they promise I’m able to skip over a few sections now because I’ve been saving seeds of plants grown in last year’s garden.

There is something so empowering about growing your own food AND saving your own seeds so that you can grow more food again next season- without the help of anyone except Mother Nature.

The simple act of bringing in a seed connects you to a 10,000 year-old heritage of saving the best seeds to better the food we eat. It also makes sense to this frugal mama because you save cold hard cash on your next seed. With both reasons, you get to play with Mother Nature and see what happens.

Luckily for us (and our ancestors), the process is pretty intuitive with most seeds. You pick a seed and save it. But like all the things worth doing, seed saving is worth doing well.

And I’ve found just the local lady to help us ALL learn to do it well!

Pam talking with visitors at the WBL Winter Market.

I’d like to introduce Pam Larson Frink .

Pam started the White Bear Lake Seed Library in April of 2016 and has been gaining steam and seed stock ever since. She also holds a Masters in Environmental Education and a Horticultural degree, so she knows her stuff inside and out. For those of you that were able to attend the White Bear Lake Winter Farmers Market, Pam was there representing the seed library.

The Seed Library at the White Bear Lake Library.

She also thinks a lot like me, “I think saving seeds connects you to the food you eat. It’s so easy to buy produce at the grocery store that you don’t understand that it’s more than just food. It’s soil and insects pollinating the plant and clean water and sun to grow the plant. And if you don’t take care of the soil and the water and the insects you soon will not have food.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Easy Peasy

The following are all Pam’s suggestions to starting to save seeds. These produce seed the same season as planted and are mostly self-pollinating, minimizing the need to be mindful of preventing cross-pollination.

4th Generation of my Blue Lake Pole Beans!

Beans and Peas- Both of these are some of the most widely (and easiest) grown garden veggies. You can let them ripen and then dry on the vine. Wait until the pods are yellow or brown and dry to the touch. Then pick them and shell them if you want. I tend to leave my pole beans in their pods for easy sorting. And my kids are more likely to help me plant if they get to pop them out of their pods as we go 🙂

Lettuces- Let the lettuce ‘bolt’ or send up its main flower stalk and wait for the flowers to fall and seeds to form on the heads. Gently knock the seeds into a paper bag. You’ll want to go out a few days in a row to get all the seeds as they ripen but before they fall off.

Sweet/Bell Peppers Harvest when ripe, pull out seeds, careful not to break the seed coating and dry on a paper towel for a few days, store in a paper envelope once dry.

Tomatoes- Harvest when ripe, scoop seeds and pulp into a glass with water, let sit for couple days, seeds that float to the top aren’t viable and you can toss. The seeds that stay at the bottom are the best seeds. Strain, then dry on paper towels. Store in paper envelope once dry.

Pam also teaches classes on seed saving techniques that dive a little deeper than we’re getting into here.

Pam’s Next Local Seed Saving & Starting Events:

Seed Packing & Demo: Mon, January 29th from 4:30-8pm
@ the White Bear Lake library.

Class: Sat, March 3 @ the Maplewood Library, 10:30-11:30am

Class: Sat, March 3 @ the White Bear Lake Library, 1-2pm

 

I’d tried reading the highly regarded book, Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth, but felt overwhelmed by ALL THE INFO! Another book recommended that is on my library wait list is Seed Sowing And Saving by Carole Turner.  But, after talking with Pam, I feel like I’m more than ready to save a few more varieties this fall.

And here’s where the planning comes in!  It is easy to forget when you’re looking at all the glorious varieties in the seed catalogs that…

If you want to start saving seeds, you have to start with save-able seeds.

Look for seeds labeled ‘open pollinated seeds’. This also means NO HYBRIDS, often labeled as F1! These are NOT good options for seed saving. They will not ‘come true’ if the seeds are planted, they will often revert.

Reverting

Johnnys Potomac Custom Mix (F1) Snapdragon Seed, which I still order even though the colors will never stick, now I know why!

Pam had a perfect story from her early days of gardening that explains this “reverting”… She had grown a beautiful rainbow of colored snapdragon flowers. So she decided to save the seed to enjoy the color burst another season. Pam planted the next Spring, getting sturdy snapdragon plants. But every single flower bloomed pale yellow. This is nature saying nice try 😉 The seed of a hybridized plant most often does not “come true” and reverts to one of the gene pools it was hybridized from. In the case of the snapdragon seeds, this meant pale yellow.

Swinging Squash

Things get a bit more complicated with certain groups that cross pollinate; squash are the notorious for cross pollinating with each other. Some open pollinating plants will cross pollinate. Seed growers have tricks like growing inside greenhouses, growing miles apart or bagging seed heads to avoid cross pollination. I might try to bag a favorite zucchini after she’s pollinated this summer!

Before I understood that squash were ‘swingers’  I had already saved and dried a few butternut and acorn squash seeds. So, after talking it over with Pam, I’m going to do my own squash experiment, I might grow something delicious, or something horrible. Either way, I’ll be playing with Mother Nature which is a win for me!

The Seed Stacks

Seed Libraries are places where people can ‘check out’ seeds to grow on their own.  The hope is that you can save some seed and replenish the seed stock the following Fall/Winter. They’re usually housed inside public libraries, but also co-ops and community centers. Checking out the seeds are free, but some ask for  membership info or volunteer commitments.

Our WBL Seed Library asks for membership info, but as Pam quipped, “There are no seed Nazis around”.  Started in April of 2016, the WBL branch is serving the community well, going through over 1,000 seed packets in 2017!  They take both home saved and purchased seed. With a few necessary caveats.

Donating to the seed library? Please keep in mind:
Heirloom or open pollinated varieties only. If they are home saved seeds, a few choice vegetable varieties; Beans, Peas, Lettuce, Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes, and native flowers.

This year the White Bear Lake See Library is especially looking for some native pollinator plants like Milkweed, Liatrus/Blazing Star and Monarda /Bee Balm– but only the native non-hybridized varieties.

To save seeds of native flowering plants, wait until the flower forms a seed head, knock off seeds (or cut seed head) and bag.

I just went and ‘harvested some more bee balm and milk weed today, Jan 17th for the Seed Library once I knew they were low. Quite a few of the seeds had been knocked down by the wind or eaten by birds, but there were enough to make it worth my efforts.

So far, I’ve only ever saved enough seeds to use the following year, and keeping them in paper bags inside paper envelopes has worked well for me. But if you want to save for multiple years you’ll be better off storing in an airtight container- like a mason jar. Just make sure they are completely dry before you seal that jar!

Seeds make tasty treats too!

I want to give a shout out to the people who have worked to secure our right to save and share our own seed, with a Minnesota bill being signed in May of 2015. The business of seeds is BIG business, and without the efforts of many groups working together to protect our rights to save and share seeds, thank you!
Do It Green! 
Gardening Matters
HomeGrown Minneapolis

A few more online resources that Pam suggested include:

  • Seed Savers Exchange– One of the best nationwide sources for heirloom seeds, they have a stunning selection of seeds for sale (but don’t get sucked too far in!)
  • They also have their actual “Exchange” program, outlined HERE
  • The University of Minnesota, as always has gathered simple, accessible practicle information about saving Vegetable seeds grown in MN. 
  • If you’d like another online read about seed saving, The International Seed Saving Institute has some easy to read info as well.
  • White Bear Lake area residents, be sure to check out the WBL Seed Library’s Blog site and sign up for their emails, its a great way to connect with other local gardeners!

There’s literally endless information out there. Like all things gardening, saving seeds is less daunting and way more fun when you get to talk to someone else who either knows what they’re doing, or is making the same mistakes as you are 🙂

I hope you can join one of the White Bear Lake Seed Library packing events, I’ll be there on January 29th at the WBL Library.  It would be a fun and fruitful way to meet more of you in person!

A special thanks to Pam for taking her deep plant knowledge and vision to help the community and creating our local Seed Library- the ONE THOUSAND packets of seeds shared in 2017 is just the beginning!!

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Will you try to save any seeds this year? Which ones? I’m determined to save my tomato and peppers this year!

Can’t wait to Dig into the Dirt again with all this talk of seeds!

Michelle

 

 

Holiday Market Meals!

Some of my stash from the Market!

Holy Holiday Market Haul!

In case you missed it, White Bear Lake was host to a winter farmers market last weekend, and it was a huge hit! So much real, whole, local food under one roof. It was a blast to see everyone getting excited about local foods – thanks so much for making it a great success: for the farmers, vendors, White Bear Area Food Shelf, Tamarack Nature Center and BearPower. What a vibrant community to be a part of!

If you’re like some of the over 500 people who shopped local at the recent Winter Farmers Market, you may have an abundance of lovely late season/storage/root crop produce hanging around staring at you… I’ve been cooking up a storm ever since and have narrowed this blog post down to two must try recipes.

One for a quick healthy family friendly dinner; Warm Salad: Roasted Squash & Crisped Kale.

One fancy enough to impress at a Holiday Meal; Winter Veg Lasagna. Continue reading

Winter Farmers Market Tomorrow!

I wouldn’t want you to miss out on all the food!

The first White Bear Lake Winter Farmers market is tomorrow, Saturday December 9th from 10am-2pm, at Tamarack Nature Center. Link to map and directions HERE.

This is a one day only event and a great way to fill your holiday tables and check off gifts with sustainable items from your neighbors.

HERE is a previous post all about the market, from vendors and community tables to the donated apple cider.

The Facebook Page, HERE will continue to have updates, like this  basket of goodies I’ll be raffling off at the market!

Thanks for following along on this journey to find good, simple, local food- I truly appreciate it.

Can’t wait to Dig Into the food this Saturday!

**Looking forward to sharing recipes made with all the local food I bring home from this market!**

Michelle

 

An Apple A Day

One of my favorite things about Fall in Minnesota is the ALL THE APPLES! So many different flavors and crunch levels- so many ways to enjoy your “apple a day.”

Pine Tree Apple Orchard, the  orchard nearest us, has  some of my favorite varieties available right now! Apples in season include Sweet Tango, Honeycrisp, Haralson, Cortland, Red Delicious, Fireside and Regent.

Me, looking a little too excited about all the apples.

Pick a Peck ( or 7)
I got lucky this year! I found a friend (through the magic of a Facebook post) who had three beautiful trees that they weren’t going to be able to thoroughly use, and she let me come and pick my fill. I’m humbled by their generosity.😊

In farming and food rescue terms this is called “gleaning”. Regardless of what you call it, this was a win-win. I bet if you wanted, you too could end up with more apples than you know what to do with… but you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

These apples were organic perfection; a little apple scab here, some worm holes there, even a bird nest up in the branches. When other wild animals want my food, I see that as a really good sign that the food is good for me. No bugs around means they’ve all been killed, or would die from eating the food growing there (some food for thought). Also, it was as idyllic spot and array of trees. The previous owners knew what they were doing and planted complimentary varieties; Cortland, Honeycrisp, and Fireside. I got roughly a five gallon bucket full of each variety. 64 pounds in all (I had posted 54 pounds earlier on- but forgot about the bags I left in the garage to keep cool- oops!) 

So what does one do with all those apples??
I thought you’d never ask …

Apple a la Skin
I’m a big fan of eating apples old school- wash and eat. I even know a few (slightly crazy) people who eat the core, seeds and all. That’s not my cup of cider… but since nature provides us with a BOUNTY of apples all at once, our homesteading ancestors figured out so many amazing ways to make good use of all the parts of all those apples! Continue reading

Forks’ Weekend Spread – Harvest Time!

Nothing says Autumn in Minnesota like Colorful trees, pumpkins, apples and fresh air!

Harvest Festivals can be the culmination of a good growing season- or a feel like a bland mix of pumpkin spice and everything nice. Lucky for us, our vibrant local food scene is bursting with phenomenal farms of all flavors. They each celebrate their love of local food and drink in unique ways. Family friendly and full of fall fun, find the hip harvest party of your dreams below…

 

Urban Roots 20th Anniversary Party

20 years of awesomesauce. Urban Roots is one of those groups that’s just got it going on. Through their Market Garden Program they work with inner city youth interns that purchase, grow, maintain, harvest and sell- sometimes even  serve- the produce they raise on their urban farm plot. Cook St Paul is one of the local restaurants that carry their produce. The Chef + Owner of that fine establishment, Eddie Wu, is the emcee for the night’s festivities. *See Cook St. Paul’s listing below too* Live auction items for foodies and farmers alike to drool over. Featuring BANG Brewing and Chowgirls Killer Catering. If you want to have fun and support changing our food systems at the same time, this is your ticket. Those tickets are available Through Wednesday (that’s tomorrow!!) evening.  Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Thursday, Oct 12, 6pm- 9pm
Tickets $75 and up Available through Wed
Harriet Island Pavilion, 200 Doctor Justus Ohage Boulevard Saint Paul, MN 55107

Continue reading

Crunchiest Granola Recipe

Granola is a staple in our home. I bought box after box for years- but for the last few years I’ve been making our own, and loving every crunchy bite.

Even with the ‘healthy’ and organic store bought varieties there were always things that didn’t need to be in my breakfast bowl… So, I decided to make my own. It didn’t take me long to realize there are a million different ways to make granola, with some swearing by this ingredient or method. I  value recipes with a little leeway far above the strict and staunch varieties. Besides, I never make it the same twice- but I will  give you the basics to a pretty healthy granola recipe that tastes decadent, and you make it your own from here.

All granola recipes start with something wet, to help bind the dry ingredients. I start with apple sauce and maple syrup. We make our own of both and I think the hint of apple + maple flavor takes this over the top- but I’ve used honey during syrup shortages without my kids noticing. I add a little fat in the form of coconut oil or butter (or some of both) and throw in the salt and cinnamon. If I want an extra warming batch I’ll add in some ginger (but powdered works better than grated here which is an almost never in my kitchen), nutmeg and maybe even cardamom.

This is where you can spice it up and add your own favorite flavors. Sometimes I’m on a vanilla kick and scrape a whole bean into the mix.

Then comes my only “no substitutions allowed” for this recipe: Coconut flakes. Not the limp, sugary kind, but the REAL DEAL – Bob’s Red Mill has consistently been the best for us. I may be a granola snob, but eating granola without those little toasted coconut flakes is like eating pie without filling (nothing against a good crust).

I like my breakfast to get me ‘moving’ if you know what I mean… So I pack these crunchy clusters with LOTS of fiber. I usually use both flaxseed meal and chia seeds – because together they add two different layers of crispiness, and once again fiber. I also love Oat Bran to both add more fiber and lighten up  the mix while helping it bind together.

Then I’ll add whatever nuts I have around- pecans are a favorite for how they toast up light and (you guessed it) crunchy- but almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts have all made it in before.

Last I’ll add the oats- plain, old fashioned, rolled oats.  I love elevating simple foods to another level by combining them with other simple, wholesome ingredients. Can you tell I love my granola yet? Continue reading

Crispy Crunchy Dilly Beans

You had me at Crispy.

This recipe is why I fell in love with canning. I was a veggie virgin when it came to home preserving, only having canned jams and jellies before. I fell hard for these crispy pods packed with flavor that make you pucker up and smile at the same time.

This was a recipe that I first found online years ago and have played with it and made it my own, but there are probably tons of recipes similar or exactly like this already out there.

I add more of certain spices; dill, garlic or pepper flakes to different jars as I go along knowing that certain family and friends who get jars have certain taste preferences… like my parents, who like them heavy on the dill- or my boys who like the garlic kicked up a few notches. This is one of the reasons I LOVE home canning; you need to follow the recipe’s basic vinegar to produce ratios and processing times- but there is so much room for playing with spices and crafting something specifically for someone :-)!

One thing I have learned the hard way year after year is one of the keys to this recipe is NOT boiling the jars to process- but a steady simmer for 10 minutes. If you get them going with a hard boil (like most hot water canning calls for) you’ll end up with tasty dilly beans- but they won’t hold their crispness. And crunching into a crispy green bean in winter that tastes like it was picked yesterday is a big part of why I make these.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is getting all those beans to fit into the jars. I use a combo of tall jelly jars, wide mouth pint jars and big old quart jars, just make sure the boiling water bath is at least 2 inches above the tallest jar when processing and you’re good to go.

Dilly Beans

Ingredients:

2-3 pounds of FRESH green beans 

4 Cups White Vinegar

4 Cups Water

½ Cup Canning Salt

Garlic Cloves: 1 clove (or more) for each jar plus at least one for the brine to boil)

Dill: enough for a few sprigs of leaves and one head in each jar (or more)

Red pepper flakes: Use as desired, a little goes a long way!

Directions:

Sterilize 6 (1/2 pint) jars with rings and lids. Trim green beans to 1/4 inch shorter than your jars. Add 1 clove of garlic, sprig of dill and sprinkle of red pepper flakes to each jar. Pack green beans into the jars as tight as possible standing on their ends. (this is the tedious part)

In a large saucepan, stir together the vinegar, water and salt and one clove of garlic and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Ladle the boiling brine into the jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Discard boiled garlic. Seal jars with lids and rings. Place in a hot water bath so they are covered by 1 inch of water. Simmer but do not boil for 10 minutes to process. If using Quart sized of jars, please add 3 minutes to the processing time. Cool to room temperature. Test jars for a good seal by pressing on the center of the lid. It should not move. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal properly, those will last for 2-3 months if kept refrigerated. Let pickles hang out for 2 to 3 weeks before eating to absorb the brine.

Dilly Beans Two Ways: Left = Vinegar/processed/shelf stable Right = Fermented/Sour/Refrigerator

As for my new passion with fermented foods, I am making more of the Fermented version of Dilly beans this summer too. I followed (as much as I ever follow recipes) the Cultures for Health Recipe found HERE . This website has so many awesome looking recipes it will take me a few seasons to make them all, but I love a good challenge!

Here’s an earlier recipe post on Sweet Zucchini Relish,   and one on Fermented pickles  you know just in case you’ve gone crazy like me.

Do you have another favorite pickling recipe? I love to try new things , actually I’m quite addicted to this pickling thing, so spread the word my way for the love of the pickle.

Dig in & Crunch away!

Michelle

 

 

How To Relish Zucchini Season

Anyone with a garden- or a neighbor who gardens- or a co-worker who gardens probably knows that zucchinis basically bombard your garden in late July. One day your looking at these stunning flowers, Male (Left) Female (Right)

and the next you’ve got baseball bat sized fruits (yes, fruits). Botanically, zucchinis are fruits, a type of botanical berry called a “pepo”,  the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.

Everyone grows zucchini because it is so easy to grow, and they’re truly versatile and a great addition to many of my healthy recipes…

I love grilling it (with onions, peppers, olive oil and Italian spices), shredding and freezing for adding it to pretty much anything) making zucchini fritters (best GF recipe HERE) or baking the beloved loaf of zucchini bread. I also have neighbors who gladly take a few- at first…

But no matter how creative I get, its tough to keep ahead of the zucchini harvest.

I know, I did it to myself; not only do I plant too many of the huge plants, I can’t help but help nature along and hand pollinate when I see flowers, which makes a huge difference for how much they produce… Just think lots of zucchini, lots and lots of zucchini…


Relish the Fields

So, when I found a recipe a few years back for zucchini sweet relish I was more than intrigued. When I read that it used 12 cups of shredded zucchini at once, I was sold. I made my first batch and, YOU GUYS- it was amazing! And I have to say after years of tweaking it is down right zen.

Sweet Relish is not really something most people get all jazzed about, I get it- but there is something magical about taking the lowly zucchini and making it shape shift into this tangy/sweet/saucy condiment.

My Hombre Zucchini Freshness chart; starting with a same day pick in front. Lighter green, shiny but not waxed skins means fresher when you shop.

The best part is the recipe works just as well with those stealth zucchini (the ones that hide on you and become ginormous overnight) as with regular size. Just be sure to remove the seeds and you are good to go.

Canning Curious?

Yes this is a Boiling Water Canning recipe. If you are new to canning; you can SO do this! Just pretend I’m there holding your hand. And also – READ THIS, I wish I would have known a few of those things before I dove into canning and wasted a good amount of time and produce.

And, if you really Can’t Can (see what I did there) go ahead and keep the relish in the fridge without processing it- it will keep for at least 3 months.

Since I have more zucchini waiting for me to shred I’ll get right down to it:

Zucchini Sweet Relish

12 Cups Shredded zucchini (seeded but not peeled)
4 Cups finely chopped onion
4 T Canning Salt

 

1 ½ C Chopped Peppers (colorful variety of bell or sweet minis)
3 ½ C White Sugar (I tried raw sugar and honey and it did not work!)
2 ½ C White Vinegar 1 T Cornstarch
½ t Nutmeg
2t Turmeric
2t Celery Seed ½ t Black pepper

 

Directions:

Mix first 3 ingredients with hands into a large glass bowl, hopefully with a tight fitting lid (so the onion smell is contained) and let sit in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.

Later:
Sterilize 8 -10 pint sized canning jars

Drain zucchini/onion mixture and rinse with water to wash away some of the salt.

Chop peppers and add the rest of the ingredients into a large stock pot, then add drained and squeezed zucchini. Really squeeze the juice out of shreds! I make monster size zucchini balls (its the little things).

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Pack relish into jars, fill to top.
(try to do this part pretty quickly so the relish stays hot).

Carefully lower jars into a large stock pot of boiling water, trying to keep 2 inches between them, and make sure water is at least 2 inches above the lids- process (boil) for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove and place onto a surface that take some serious heat, and leave to cool 24 hours.

There is nothing better than hearing that ping of the canning lid popping into place so you know that it sealed properly!

The results. The two white topped jars are for the fridge, they will be gone soon enough 😉

What we don’t eat here, I give away to family and friends, they make easy holiday and hostess gifts too.

This stuff tastes amazing, it goes on the obvious brat and hamburger, brings a ham sammy to another level, and kicks up tuna salad. I’ve used it as a ‘dip’ for cucumbers, carrots and pita chips too…

Harness the power of the prolific zucchini and preserve its awesomeness for next spring’s first burger on the grill.

Go ahead and Dig Into Canning!

Michelle

 

 

Celebrating Strawberry Season!

Don’t you wish this time of year could go on forever; the long, sun-shiny days, the kids still excited about summer break, gardens just starting to burst!  To save that fleeting, sweet taste of summer we’re turning it over to Megan Baumler who, having her doctorate in nutrition and being a registered dietitian, knows a few more things than me about why buying local, fresh produce to preserve for later is so valueable- in so many ways. Take it away Megan!

Shiny, bright red, studded with seeds, and warmed by the sun: gently grab by the stem, twist and pull, and place into your mouth. There is nothing like the taste of a freshly picked strawberry. Locally grown berries are sweeter, smaller, more nutritious, and more dense than berries that have traveled cross country to be showcased in the grocery store. Most of the berries come from California, where the strawberry season is much longer and thus more land can be devoted to them.

Here in Minnesota, locally grown berries are a specialty item: a delicacy with a fleeting cameo. Strawberries make an appearance for about 2-4 weeks every year, from mid June to early July. This should give you just enough time to be able find a couple hours to get to a farm and pick your own (PYO in berry lingo) or to buy the pre-picked treasures. The local berries are so much better- in flavor and nutrition. Continue reading

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