Friday, February 10, 2006
The Strawberry Man has arrived. This vendor has been selling this fruit at the same spot in north Jackson for years. He has a loyal following of folks who depend on this Louisiana fruit. We usually don't see these berries until March. The only ones available are from California and Florida. Most folks around here know that California strawberries shipped in to the local grocery store aren't sweet--just sort of red. Florida berries are ok sweet, but there's a difference in the taste of those from Louisiana. UMMM. Sweet, red, ready to mash and pour over pound cake or shortcake or angel food cake. Dopple a bit of whipped cream on top and you have a delightful dessert. Anyone eating berries locally grown have the delightful advantage over eating those shipped long distances.
The reason for the early sale of the berries is, according to the LSU Agriculture Extention news, farmers in Louisiana have been using new methods to keep the soil warm. Row coverings of plastic mulch and cloth-type mulch. The old method was to spray water on top of the plants and as the water froze, heat was released to protect the budding plants. No longer do farmers have to flood their fields and risk disease problems. The new methods allow the farmers to produce berries as early as December.
Prices here are $2 per pint or $24 flat of 12. Florida strawberries are selling for $2.50 in local grocery stores. Rarely have I seen Louisiana berries sold in chain grocery markets. Vendors like the one above set up their trucks and vans at specific points around the metro Jackson area.
There's a bowl of mashed strawberries mulling on the kitchen counter with a bit of sugar (to hasten breakdown and give some juice). I'll be ready for my "afternoon delight" about 3:00 p.m. Then in the morning I'll have strawberries on my granola after that, there'll be pickings all day long for a berry or two to pop into my mouth, until this flat is gone. I've most of the month to enjoy this year's crop. Sorry you won't be around this afternoon for a sample.