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Around The Grange
CT Grown Strawberries: A Sweet Sign of Summer

By Linda Piotrowicz, CT Department of Ag Press Release (5/26/10)

  JUNE 3, 2010 --

The first strawberries of the season have begun ripening to a ruby red at the state's farms, delighting Connecticut residents of all ages. To many, the sweet treats symbolize the unofficial start of summer.

"Nothing beats a native berry," said Scott Miller, Executive Chef of Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford, who put CT Grown strawberries on the menu this week for the first time this year. "They are so much sweeter, juicier, and more flavorful than anything shipped in from elsewhere. Local fruits are picked at their peak, when sugar content and flavor are at their highest levels. That's why they taste so good."

Pre-picked strawberries are appearing in limited quantities at farm stands and farmers' markets around the state, with supplies expected to quickly increase over the next two weeks. Pick-your-own fields will begin to open in early June.

"Pick-your-own is an ideal family activity," said F. Philip Prelli, Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner. "Strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to children to pick, because of their bright color and the plants' low height. Enjoyed as a snack, mixed in a salad, served over dessert, or prepared into more elaborate dishes, they can't be beat."

In addition to phenomenal flavor, strawberries provide important nutrients. A cup of whole, raw berries pack 12 percent of the RDA for fiber, along with 28 percent for folate and a whopping 141 percent for vitamin C, into only 46 calories.

Approximately 220 acres in Connecticut are dedicated to strawberries, producing some 2.6 million pounds of fruit annually. The season lasts but a few weeks, however, so residents are encouraged to enjoy them while they are here.

The Department of Agriculture's popular "Pick Your Own Fruits and Vegetables" brochure was updated, printed, and sent to town halls and public libraries across the state this month. It is available on the Department's website, www.CTGrown.gov (click on "Publications" at left of page), where consumers also can find listings for farm stands and stores, farmers' markets, and many other agricultural destinations.


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