One taste of a locally grown, Tennessee strawberry freshly picked from the vine in May reminds us we have been eating cardboard cutouts of strawberries shipped across the country for the previous eleven months. While we sometimes forget that strawberries are not supposed to be hollow in the middle, our own beautiful berries wakes us from our complacency. They may not have the "super size" look but are equally red and more than make up for their smaller size with superior flavor.
Strawberry farms are so common throughout the state that nearly every Tennessean is within a half hour drive of a little piece of berry heaven. Most of these farms are set up so you can pick your own and save a little money, while some will pick them to save you time. I prefer the latter as it leaves me more time to create with them! As with any berry, strawberries are of course highly perishable but can be frozen in a variety of ways for use during winter when you get the craving for a taste of Tennessee spring. Your farm of choice will be happy to give you some freezing tips.
We will be using these berries in abundance in the coming weeks here at the Inn. We had a strawberry extravaganza for our Mother's Day brunch, strawberry meringues this past weekend and have a strawberry cobbler in mind for the days ahead. We are buying them in bulk, using what we can fresh, then freezing or making sauce out of what remains. It is very satisfying to know we are doing our part to support these local farms so that the fruits of their labor will remain available to us in the future. I would be disappointed to see even a single berry rot on the vine because we chose to buy the cardboard ones. Besides, those will be around the rest of the year.
We are using a couple of farms. Amazing Acres in White County and Food From God Farm in Dekalb County have both been a pleasure to work with and would love to see you too. Before you visit, make sure to contact the farm beforehand to verify their hours of operation and inventory. You probably have at least two more weeks to take advantage of the season, so don't wait too long and enjoy them while they last!