Who doesn’t like strawberries?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The editor’s assignment seemed deceptively simple: Find people who like strawberries.
Seriously, this time of year, how hard could it be?
“Who doesn’t like strawberries?” my friend Sean Meyers asked incredulously when I ran into him at the Salisbury Farmers Market on Saturday morning.
Really, it’s easy to find people who love strawberries, especially if you hang out beside a vendor who’s selling them.
On Saturday, that vendor happened to be Mike Miller, of Miller’s Produce. They were the only vendor whose crop was ready.
“We’ll be wide open next week,” Mike said. “The quality is great this year.”
Mike said his mom made strawberry pudding last year instead of banana pudding.
“It was actually good,” he said.
I happened to run into Phyllis Moysan, who shared her wonderful recipe of strawberry pudding. (See accompanying article.)
“These, I just plan to eat,” she said of her morning’s purchase. “When they get more plentiful, I plan to make strawberry pie and strawberry pudding. It looks beautiful in a glass bowl.”
Phyllis said that strawberries were her favorite spring crop.
“I just can’t wait for them to come in,” she said.
Sue Eagle of Eagle Produce said they’d have strawberries this coming Saturday.
“We’re about two weeks behind,” she said. She said that customers often ask for recipes, and she shared a recipe for no-cook freezer jam (see accompanying article).
A few minutes after I talked with Sean, I ran into his wife, Beth Homan, who bought a gallon of strawberries.
“I’m gonna jam some,” she said, and probably give her daughter, Emmaline, the rest.
“My daughter would eat the whole gallon if I let her,” Beth said. “She loves ’em.”
I do, too, but I got so caught up with asking folks about strawberries that I forgot to buy a quart for myself. When I returned from the library from early voting just after 10 a.m., they were long gone.
Luckily, on the way home, I found the Patterson Farm satellite stand on West Innes Street open. Jim and Ruth Albright have worked at the stand for the past seven years — and they have their share of regulars each season.
“About two years ago, a man came by here, and he had two boys,” Jim said. “They looked like about 5 or 6 years old apiece. He bought a quart, and then drove down about two stoplights and they’d done cleaned him out. He came back and got a gallon.”
Jim said that during tours, children are allowed to pick a small amount of strawberries to take home. “That’s the best advertising (owners) Doug and Randall can have.”
Jim and Ruth work each day ’til they sell out. On Thursday, it was 3:15. On Friday, it was 4.
“This is a hot spot right here,” he said.
Darrell Blackwelder, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County, says that “as long as the weather is warm in the daytime and cool at night, strawberries will grow for a long, long time.”
For a complete listing of Rowan County strawberry growers, visit www.ncfarmfresh.com and click on “farms.”

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.