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Strawberry time is here

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Jordan's strawberries ripe for the picking

By Greg Summers

FORT LAWN – Because of his health, Bill Coble couldn’t pick strawberries at Jordan Farms last spring.

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He’s still unable to pick them, but he left the 3.5 acre strawberry patch with 6 gallons of juicy, ripe just-picked strawberries bright and early Monday. One of the buckets was going to his sister Mable’s house. The other five buckets went home with Bill and his wife, Geraldine Coble.

Before the sun went down Monday, Geraldine had made a fresh milkshake from vanilla ice cream, milk, half a banana and a handful of strawberries grown at Jordan Farms.

“You get in a rocking chair on a front porch and you can’t beat a homemade strawberry milkshake,” Geraldine said. “A strawberry milkshake will make your blues go away every time.”

While the economy may be a little murky, the taste of the strawberries at Jordan Farms is as sweet and delectable as ever. The crop started hitting its peak Saturday and the air around the family-run business is permeated with the smell of ripened fruit.

“This is the prime time of the year,” said Robert Schoolcraft, who was busy picking 2 gallons of strawberries with his wife, Connie.

“Even the big ones are really sweet,” he said.

“The earlier the season the better the berry,” Connie Schoolcraft said. “It’s hard to stop eating them once you get started.” 

While many like the Schoolcrafts believe that early season strawberries are the best, David Jordan isn’t quite so sure.

Part of that, Jordan said, can be attributed to the fact that fresh strawberries taste better, especially when you haven’t had them in a while.

“It’s a good question that I don’t know if there’s really an answer to,” Jordan said. “We’ve had lots of sunshine in the last 10 days. That always helps bring out the sugar content in the berries.”

The strawberries that are ripe right now will last about five more days, Jordan said. Behind them, another batch will start turning reddish-pink in a pattern that will last until mid-June.

At Jordan Farms, strawberries are $8 per gallon to pick your own and $10 per gallon when they do the picking.

So far, there have been plenty of pickers, but they are picking less this year.

“With the economy like it is right now, folks are buying less than in the past. I know we are,” Jordan said. “It’s a pretty good crop. Right now, it remains to be seen just how the economy is going to affect us.”

But based on the traces of a just-picked and eaten strawberry running down Raevyn Ward’s chin, Jordan is still looking at a banner year.Raevyn, not quite 2, and her older sister, Emma, 4, made the most of their visit to the strawberry patch with their grandmother, Babara Westbrook. 

After all, nothing beats a fresh, just-picked strawberry.

“That’s some of the best advertising out there,” Jordan said, as he watched Raevyn, whose shirt was covered in pink stains, walk to the car with a big strawberry in each hand.

“Based on that, I think we’re gonna have a pretty good year,” Jordan said.    

How to pick ’em

Whether you pick your own or prefer to buy them already picked, strawberries are only really worth having if they are mold-free, bright red, full and juicy with their fresh green caps on.

One cup of strawberries has only 55 calories and they are a great source of vitamin C, with eight strawberries providing 140 percent of the recommended daily intake for kids. However, much of that vitamin C  content can destroyed when strawberries are prepared for eating though coming in contact with extreme heat or soaking in water too long. They are best eaten as soon as possible.

To pick strawberries, grasp the stem just above the berry between the forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion. With the stem broken about half an inch from the berry, allow it to roll into the palm of your hand. When you pick your own and store them in containers, be careful not to squash them.

Directions

Jordan Farms is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To get there, take S.C. 9 Bypass to Fort Lawn. Turn right onto S.C. 21 North at the stop light. Go 2.4 miles until you see the Jordan Farms sign. Turn right at sign onto Seegars Road and then turn right at the third driveway. You’ll see the strawberry shed as soon as you pull in. For details, call (803) 287- 5505. 

Bet you didn’t know

– The American Indians were already eating strawberries when settlers arrived. They mixed crushed berries with corn meal and baked them into a strawberry bread. After trying the bread, colonists came up their own version, creating strawberry shortcake.

– The strawberry is a member of the rose family and is unique in that it’s the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside. On average, there are 200 seeds in one strawberry.

– While strawberries are grown in every state, California produces 75 percent of the nation’s strawberry crop (over 1 billion pounds). If all the strawberries produced in California were laid berry to berry, it would circle the world 15 times.

 

– From “Strawberries and More,” by the University of Illinois

Strawberry Pretzel Pie

Ingredients

For the crust

2 2/3 cups crushed pretzels

1/2 cup margarine

3 tablespoons Splenda

For the filling

12 ounces fat-free cream cheese

1 8-ounce carton sugar-free whipped topping

3/4 cup Splenda

For the topping

2 6-ounce packages sugar-free strawberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

2 cups fresh sliced strawberries, sweetened with 1/2 cup Splenda

Directions

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

– Combine crushed pretzels, margarine and 3 tablespoons Splenda and press into the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.

– In a medium bowl, beat together fat-free cream cheese and 3/4 cup Splenda until smooth and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping and spread evenly into cooled crust.

– Place gelatin in a medium heat-proof bowl and add boiling water. Stir gently until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add strawberries sweetened with 1/2 cup Splenda and continue to stir until mixture thickens. Chill until semi-firm, but still pourable. Pour over cream cheese layer and chill for at least two hours before serving.

– Recipe by Dianne Sweatt