Strawberry season is HERE - make sure you get plenty to last you all year long! Strawberry farmers in southern and central Minnesota opened for pre-picked and pick-you-own last week and will see peak picking conditions over the Fourth of July holiday. North-central to northern Minnesota strawberry farmers will start picking late this week into early next week. The Minnesota Grown Directory boasts over 85 strawberry farms
across Minnesota, so there is bound to be one near you or your travel route this holiday!
Always call your farm before you head out to pick or get pre-picked strawberries. The farm will update you on the latest picking conditions, crop availability and more!
Freezing Minnesota Grown Strawberries is the perfect way to capture the sweet, juicy taste of Minnesota's summers. Don't forget making jam, jelly, preserves or canning are great ideas too! For tips, check out the June Pick of the Month
Calling All Berry Recipes!!
Do you have an amazing strawberry, raspberry or
blueberry recipe? How about one that uses multiple berries? Are you interested in sharing it to win a prize from Minnesota Grown AND bragging rights? Click here to email
Minnesota Grown your recipe. You never know... you could be the next winner!
Congratulations to Jean Kidder
for winning the strawberry call-out for recipes. Just for emailing us a recipe, she won some cool Minnesota Grown gear! You can read her delicious strawberry salad recipe below.
Strawberry Recipe Winner!
Strawberry Spinach Salad
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup fresh strawberries, slicedDressing:
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1 green onion, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoon sugar
1.5 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of paprika
1. In a large skillet, cook and stir almonds and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved and almonds are coated. Spread on foil to cool; break apart.
2. In a jar with tight lid, combine all dressing ingredients, shaking well.
3. In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds.
4. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss gently to coat and serve!
Recipe courtesy of Jean Kidder, Minnesota Grown Fan.
Rhubarb Raspberry Crunch
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant tapioca
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In large bowl, combine sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and salt. Place rhubarb and raspberries into bowl making a sure to completely coat them with dry ingredients. Pour into baking pan.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and oats. Cut in butter until mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Spread on top of fruit mixture.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender.
Blueberry Orange Muffins
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
10 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated zest of 2 large oranges
1.5 cups fresh blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line with baking cups for 12-18 muffins.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
3. In a bowl with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter until light. Add eggs and vanilla. beat to combine. Add sour cream, orange juice and orange zest. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.
4. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into greased muffin tins.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick can be inserted to the center of a muffin and comes out clean.
6. If desired, while still warm, dip the muffin tops in orange juice and roll in sugar.
Recipe courtesy of Minnesota Grown member, Blueberry Fields of Stillwater.
Sweet Corn - around the corner!
We are going to have to wait a little bit longer for that sweet and juicy and taste of Minnesota Grown sweet corn. A few farms have reported their sweet corn has just begun to tassel. The sweet corn will take about 3-4 weeks to mature after tasseling begins. We expect to see fresh, Minnesota Grown sweet corn at farmers markets and roadside stands around the third or fourth week in July. Northern Minnesota farms should ripen about 1-2 weeks after that.
When picking out sweet corn, look for stalks that the silk is brown and dried out at the top and those with plump kernels. You can even pierce a kernel, if a translucent milky fluid comes out, it's ready!
Keep an eye out for the August Pick of the Month, we will share a sweet corn recipe and tips on freezing and storing sweet corn!
Farmers Market Update!
Farmers markets are loaded with vendors and healthy, tasty Minnesota Grown produce.
You will still see greens, radishes and bedding plants. Broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, summer squash are starting to appear. You will also see berries, cucumbers, potatoes and tomatoes making their way to your local market.
You can use the Minnesota Grown Directory online to find a farmers market near you, on your way to work, the cabin or anywhere in Minnesota! You can also now refine your search by the day of the week you'd like to shop! With over 160 farmers markets, there is bound to be one that works for you!
Berries, Berries & More Berries!
The season is one-two weeks later than normal, but Minnesota's berry season is gaining steam as we enter July. Raspberries and blueberries should be ready for picking in about 10-14 days for southern and central Minnesota. We normally do not see an overlap, or as long of an overlap, in these berries as we will this year. The cooler wetter spring delayed strawberries, but the recent sunny skies and warm (but not too hot) weather has allowed raspberries and blueberries to ripen! The Minnesota Grown Directory has 100 farms
that offer raspberries, blueberries or both!
There are several different varieties of raspberries, depending on when they bear fruit and how often, some people refer to them as summer-bearing, fall-bearing or ever-bearing raspberries. Like many berries, they contain ellagic acid, which is an antioxidant, and are also high in vitamin C. They are great eaten raw, made into jams/jellies and are often featured in scrumptious desserts.
If you decide to pick your own raspberries, make sure you follow many of the tips for strawberry picking that can be found in the June Pick of the Month
, such as wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. When picking raspberries, gently grasp the raspberry between your finger and your thumb and gently pull. If the raspberry is ripe, it will easily detach from the stem. If you have to pull too hard, then the berry isn't ready yet! Repeat this until you have about 3-4 raspberries in your hand, then set them gently into your container. Pick only fully red raspberries since they do not not ripen after picking. Keep in mind, raspberry bushes do have tiny stickers than can be prickly!
Store raspberries in a shallow container, stacking too many on top of each other will cause them to deteriorate quicker. It's best to wait to wash them until just before you eat them. Keeping them in the refrigerator is best, and they'll last 3-5 days. Raspberries can be frozen for up to one year. The easiest method is to wash the raspberries, then lay them out flat on a cookie sheet and put into the freezer. Laying them out will allow each raspberry to freeze individually (and relatively quickly, about 25-40 minutes). Once they are firm, you can them put them into an air-tight container for freezer safe plastic bag.
Blueberry plants can be difficult for homeowners to grow themselves, since they require an acidic well-drained soils. However, with support from The University of Minnesota
, blueberries are becoming a very popular plant for farmers and homeowners alike. The Minnesota Grown Directory now has 27 farms
who grow and sell blueberries directly to you! Blueberries are very low in calories and are among one of the highest antioxidant levels in berries and also contain vitamin's C, A and E. Like raspberries, They are great eaten raw, made into jams/jellies and are often featured in desserts, breads, muffins and more!
Again, if you are picking your own blueberries, you can following many of the tips for strawberries, like comfortable clothes and sunscreen. Some people highly recommend wearing a belt so you can attached you bucket and use two hands for picking. Try to pick one bush clean of ripe berries before you move onto the next bush! Not only will you save your own energy so you can pick longer, you'll leave better conditions for the farmer and other blueberry pickers. Gently roll the berry between your thumb and the palm of your hand, the ripe blueberry should just fall off. Ripe blueberries are light gray to blue. You'll want to avoid green/white blueberries, since they will not ripen after being picked. Don't forget to check behind leaves, you may just find a cluster of ripe blueberries waiting for you!
Blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and it's recommended to wait on washing them until just before you are ready to use them. Blueberries can also be frozen, much like raspberries, however it's best NOT to wash blueberries before freezing. This can make the berries retain too much water (and not enough of it's own juices) and make them soggy when thawed.
For all pick-your-own farms the best tip around is "CALL AHEAD!" Berry farmers not only want, they expect you to call or check online before visiting their farm. Most who offer pick-your-own will update the answer line or website first thing every morning, so customers can be aware of daily hours, picking conditions and any other details. Many farms also require you to call-ahead if you want to pick up pre-picked berries. They need time to get out there and pick your fresh berries!
Natura Farms: A Berry Tale
At the beginning of June, Minnesota Grown's Jessica Miles and student worker Greta Diers went to Natura Farms (Marine on St. Croix) where they learned about currants, elderberries and gooseberries... oh my!
The first stop at the farm was saying hello to Boots and 15 other goats. Goats are more like deer than sheep-about 80 percent of their diet is brush. Paul Otten, Natura Farm's owner, brought us around the rest of the grounds while they finished their lunch.
Paul's biggest crop is currants, which he grows in a rainbow of colors from black to pink. Although currants are often associated with jam, Paul informed us that in northern Europe the small fruit is commonly eaten mashed raw with sugar. It can also be used in desserts, toppings, juice and wines. Why aren't currants as easy to find at the store as blueberries? Currants are vulnerable to white pine blister rust, a disease that affects white pine trees but needs the currant to complete its life cycle. This has made the berries unpopular for growers in Minnesota. However, that doesn't mean currants don't grow well here. They are adapted to very cold temperatures and enjoy a long, dormant winter.
Both currants and gooseberries belong to the ribes family. Paul notes that both follow the saying, "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a ribes plant healthy, wealthy and wise." In early April the plant will start to wake up and prepare to bear fruit. After much tender-loving-care, in June and July the currants and gooseberries are ready to be picked by the bunch and baked, mashed or squeezed into your favorite treat! We hear gooseberries make delicious pies.
Between fields we stopped to enjoy a bite of horseradish leaves. You might have seen the picture below of Greta eating this mustard green-like leaf on our Facebook page! We thought you could use the leaf as a lettuce wrap in place of bread or it would be a great cooked green! After this tasty and unexpected treat we arrived at the strawberry field. We were happy to see small blossoms almost one month ago on the strawberry plants. Thirty days from blossom to bloom means some strawberries are ready to pick now!
Elderberries are another hard to find berry growing in popularity in Minnesota. Paul showed us his elderberry plants and explained that while a mechanical blueberry picker can pick up to 10,000 berries per hour, the only machine pickers for elderberries get about 500 berries per hour. This has made increased production of this tiny berry difficult. It's commonly used for making cordial, tea and jams. How about a peanut butter and elderberry jam sandwich? Elderberries should be ready to pick near the end of August.
Another berry favorite is the raspberry. Besides red, Paul grows black raspberries which have bigger seeds and a more concentrated flavor. Purple raspberries, also at the farm, are a hybrid between red and black so they contain the flavor of the black and the shelf life of the red. Don't forget there are three types of raspberries: summer, fall and ever-bearing. That means raspberries will be around for picking from July-September!
Visiting Natura Farms was a real treat. Paul grew up in the south hinterlands of Brazil on a soybean ranch. He has visited numerous countries learning and experimenting with all kinds of berries. He welcomed us on to his farm and we look forward to a trip back now that berry season has officially begun! Whether you want to make strawberry or gooseberry jam, don't forget to look for a berry farm near you using the Minnesota Grown directory. For a free printed copy call 1-888-TOURISM or visit us at www.MinnesotaGrown.com.
Deer River Wild Rice Festival
, July 5-7th.For 60 years the area has celebrated the "world's largest wild rice festival" to honor their agricultural roots and bring together the community. There is a parade, food, music, flea market, kids' activities, bingo and a wild rice run - not to mention fireworks! Festival of Farms
, July 13th, from 9a-4p.
This is an opportunity to learn more about sustainable agriculture, network within the community and have fun at various farms across the state. The Sustainable Farming Association has four chapters in Minnesota (Central, Crow River, Lake Agassiz and South Central). Each chapter will host different networking opportunities, farm tours and more. Hot Dog Night
, July 18th starting at 4p.This will be the 51st year of this event where 10,000 all-beef hot dogs are distributed free to participants. There is a Wienerman Triathlon (4 person teams swimming, biking, running and hot-dog eating), "weiner dog beauty pageant," and "wiener dog races." There is also plenty of entertainment and demonstrations.
It's a free, family event!Summer Farm Jams in a Jiffy
, July 20th, from 9a-11a.
Offered by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, this 2 hour class will teach you how to make the taste of summer last all winter long with simple, no-equipment jams! $35/members & $45/nonmembers. You must pre-register. Horticulture Night
, July 25th from 5-9p
The University of Minnesota and the West Central Research and Outreach Center invites you to the 43rd annual Horticultural night! Located in Morris, this event will feature farm tours, hands-on milking demonstration, vendor booths and panel discussions. Lake George Blueberry Festival
, July 26-28th.The 30th annual Blueberry Festival will celebrate everything blueberry related! This family friendly event includes blueberry pancakes, blueberry ball, blueberry square dance, educational booths, pie sale, pig roast, firemen's bean feed, quilt show, flea market, bike give-away, gospel concert, medallion hunt and much more!Garlic Festival
, August 10th from 10a-6p.
The 8th annual Minnesota Garlic Festival is just around the corner! Stop by this family-friendly, fun event at McLeod County Farigrounds Hutchinson. This festival features fantastic foods, celebrity chefs, marvelous music, goofy games and of course, LOTS OF GARLIC! It's only $5 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and under, babies are free and a $1 per car parking fee.
Minnesota Grown Directory
There is so much to do in the summer but sometimes it can be an information overload. Let us help you with one Directory of farms and places to visit, all organized by their geographical location. Yes, I'm talking about the 2013-14 Minnesota Grown Directory! This FREE directory is filled with places to visit and things to do. From farmers markets to berry patches to wineries and livestock producers - you are sure to find an activity that suits your needs.
This Directory will also help you buy local! Looking for beef? The Directory has nearly 100 beef producers
. How about a grower of Heirloom tomatoes? The Directory has 20 growers
who can help you out! Would you like to locally source your yarn? The Directory has 12 farmers
who sell yarn! The Minnesota Grown Directory has 970 farmers and producers who are all ready and willing to sell their products directly to you! You can order your FREE copy by calling 1-888-TOURISM or going online to www.minnesotagrown.com.
Minnesota Grown Facebook
Are you on Facebook? If so, we want to be friends with you! We have just over 9,200 Facebook fans and are on our way to 10,000
- can you help us get there?! Recommend our page, share our posts, comment and spread the good news about Minnesota agriculture! We love to giveaway prizes to fans who interact with us! :)
Remember to add us to your interest list! This is a relatively new way to organize your friends, fan pages and sort your news feeds. Adding us to one of your interest lists will make it easier for you to follow our page and see our posts. Of course, the best way to stay in touch is to like our comments and photos, participate in our conversations and post to our page. The more active you are with us, the more active we can be with you and also, the more likely you are to see information from us!
Minnesota Grown Supporters
The Minnesota Grown Program is supported by buying local enthusiasts, individual farm members and several producer associations. This month, we want to highlight and thank one of those supporters, Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (MFVGA)
The MFVGA is a non-profit organization committed to supporting Minnesota's Fruit and Vegetable growers and related agri-businesses. They seek to encourage and improve fruit and vegetable production and marketing in Minnesota, to provide education opportunities for growers, to cooperate with educational institutes to further research and to promote and advance the vegetable industry.