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Picking the Best Strawberries

Martha Stewart Living, June 2005

Thompson-Finch Farm is one of many places where you can experience the pleasure of picking fruits and vegetables. To find a farm near you, log on to www.pickyourown.org, where you'll find listings organized by county and state (the website also includes farms for different kinds of fruits).To learn more about Marnie and Don MacLean's farm, go to www.thompsonfinch.com or call 518-329-7578. When you're ready to go picking, keep these tips in mind:

Go in the early morning or on cool, cloudy days. If you pick during the hottest part of the day, the fruit will become soft and will bruise easily.

The proprietor will most likely assign you a row for picking. Pick one spot clean before moving on.

Bigger isn't always better; small berries are often the sweetest ones.

Take only berries that are fully red; if they're still white on the tips, they need a few more days. Pull off and discard any that are showing rot.

To pick, hold the stem about a half inch from the strawberry with your forefinger and thumbnail, and give it a slight twist. Then let the berry roll into the palm of your hand. Carefully place each in your container (tossing them in will cause them to bruise) .

Use shallow, wide containers, and only make a few layers so the weight of the berries on top won't damage the ones below.

Try to get berries home quickly -- don't keep them in a hot, stuffy car trunk.