Apparently, unlike a few of my coworkers and several other friends, I don't have particularly negative memories of fresh fruit picking as a child. So when my Business Manager suggested we go U-Pick together, I was quite excited.
I have happy memories of strawberry picking, assisted by the fact that we had family friends who had a 40 acre strawberry farm. (They might still have it, near the southern border of Michigan--also asparagus and blueberries. I can give you an address if you need it.) So it was less of a chore and more of a field trip to the H's place. And it was very different from what we did at home and meant you came out of the fields with mouth and hands stained with strawberry juice.
Of course, this meant then coming home, cleaning berries forEVER, and then freezing them (twice).
But one forgets the cleaning, and instead remembers the warm happy memories. And yesterday absolutely added to the happy part.
Due to weather considerations, we spontaneously field tripped to La Crescent, MN last night for strawberries. It's a gorgeous farm that's in between bluffs, situated in an incredibly picturesque valley. After grabbing big trays in wood baskets from one sun-kissed teen, we headed to the end of the field.
And so, in work clothes and work shoes (fortunately, I was wearing stacked sandals), I hunkered down and went picking. It was incredibly meditative. It was coming up on six p.m., so while the sun was really bright but the temperature had cooled off. There were other people in the fields, but we were spaced out pretty well and I really didn't really feel like I had to listen to others conversations. The fields were beautiful. Tall, lush plants that were covered, just covered with strawberries. Not huge strawberries but normal sized ones, brilliantly ripe and red.
In just under an hour, we each filled our tray, hauled ourselves off our knees (I was crawling (super carefully) by that point--no strawberries were smashed on my pants!!) and headed back to the barn to have our strawberries weighed.
And mine came in just under 12 lbs. for....me. Hmmmmm. We adjourned to the car and I realized I had broken out in hives. While strawberries themselves don't bother me, apparently the little prickles all over the plant stems don't do good things to my lower arms. After I was dropped off at work (where the Gecko [Hedgepig's green car] was parked) I went in and scrubbed with soap and that seemed to rectify the situation pretty quickly.
I came home with my berries, also with new vacuum (stole type suggestion from another librarian on Twitter). I even managed to get them cleaned last night! I don't have a big deep freeze, so I couldn't do a "proper" double freeze (clean berries, freeze whole/flat, wait overnight, put frozen single berries into ziplocks and back in the freezer. So---this is what ended up happening.
I'm a happy happy hedgehog with many strawberries. Also, pretty pleased with myself that I remembered how to clean and freeze strawberries appropriately. Thank you to the IPM for dragging me through appropriate processes. That's as close to it as I could get with a teeny freezer and tons of strawberries.