Seasoned Shopper – May 2021

(Barbara Kobsar, Photographer)
(L-R) Gaby, Mia and Erik Lopez from Chay’s Farm at the Farmer’s Market, are ready to sell their delicious strawberries. 

    Excitement is mounting at the local Orinda Farmers’ Market. This month more flats of fresh harvest strawberries arrive and baskets of blackberries and raspberries make their debut.
    Check in with your favorite strawberry grower if you are curious about the variety or particular qualities of the berry. Size, a matter of preference, does not necessarily determine quality.
    Many California varieties are now bred to be large while maintaining the juiciness and firmness once only found in the smaller strawberries.
    Chays Farms from Royal Oaks, CA, returns to market for several months to sell its berries and other produce including carrots, beets and greens – all certified organic. The flats of strawberries are unloaded from the truck, stacked behind the stand and then carefully set out on the table in single baskets or 3-pack carriers ready for their customers.
    This year Chays Farms is growing the Albion and Monterey variety strawberries. Both are excellent for eating fresh or freezing as well as making pies and preserves. Be sure to store the berries in small containers since they can be crushed by their own weight. Refrigerate berries unwashed between a layer of paper towels in a covered container for 3 to 4 days.
    Prepare strawberries just before using. Wash under cool running water and drain on paper towels. Hull by removing caps with a slight twist or with the point of a paring knife. If you find yourself with an excess of luscious berries, freezing is a good way of preserving for later use. Rinse, hull and drain. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags to store up to 6 months.
    Blackberries and raspberries are botanical cousins and known together as brambles because they grow on thorny bushes or brambles. They are similar in structure – plump juicy “kernels” make up the shape of the berry. Blackberries remain fairly firm after harvest, while raspberries are hollow and more fragile.
    Golden raspberries are joining the baskets of red raspberries this season at the Chay stand. All offer a delicate texture, and the golden ones tend to be a little sweeter and milder. The choice is yours!
    Berries are picked ripe and ready to eat. Refrigerate as soon as possible after purchase.
    The Orinda market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. More information is available at, and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline 925.431.8361.

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