Look, nothing against those huge, not-quite-ripe grocery store strawberries, but come May, it’s time for some sweet local strawberries—the ones that are red all the way through, so juicy they run down your chin and fragrant enough to smell up the car on the way home. Eat them plain, drop them into smoothies (keep the leaves and stem on and you’ll be giving yourself a boost of caffeic acid—rumored to have anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating powers), crush them into a yummy jam or dump them over shortcake . . . whatever you do with them, eat ’em up quick.
Ripe strawberries don’t last long, but here’s a tip for stretching their lifespan: Line a lidded container with a paper towel and lock your newly purchased, unwashed, unstemmed strawberries inside and refrigerate.
Strawberry stands have opened for the season, with social distancing measures in place: plastic shielding, masks, gloves, signs requesting customers stand 6 feet apart. Aside from strawberries, other produce might be available, depending on the day. You’ll find sellers on many street corners around the area, and in clapboard sheds beside fields in some of the more rural sections of the suburbs. Hours can be guessy, with the overriding factor being “while supplies last.” Here are five favorites:
7246 Auburn-Folsom Road, Granite Bay
On the counter yesterday: strawberries, cherries, apricots, sugar snap peas, red onions, yellow onions, green onions, spring garlic, fava beans, sweet pea flowers, local honey
8320 Hazel Ave., Orangevale
On the counter yesterday: strawberries, cherries, sugar snap peas, mangos (likely trucked in, but they looked great)
Nai’s Berry Farm
7314 Santa Juanita Road, Orangevale
On the counter yesterday: strawberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, sugar snap peas, red onion, honey from Colwell Mandarin Ranch in Penryn
Corner of Douglas Boulevard and Barton Road, Granite Bay
On the counter yesterday: strawberries, sugar snap peas, garlic
7445 Wachtel Way, Citrus Heights
On the counter yesterday: strawberries, broccoli, purple spring onions, spring garlic