What’s Fresh, Chattanooga: Local Strawberries Still Around

Chattanooga (WDEF) – It used to be that Memorial Day signaled the end of the local strawberry season.

But this year’s crop is going well beyond that date.

Reasons?

  • the holiday hit early this year
  • growers are moving to later producing varieties that extend the series
  • this year’s season is running a few weeks later than normal.

The weather has been the key factor.  Remember that rainy, cool spell in early April?  We can thank it for June berries this year.

But the catch has been finding them.

Supply has greatly outstripped demand.  People have been lining up and waiting up to an hour to get the Hughes berries at the Chattanooga Market the last few weekends, and they always sell out before noon.  The good news is that they tell me they have a few more weeks left in their berry season.

Deliveries to local fruit stands aren’t lasting them through the week.

So how do you find them (and how do you know if they are local)?

Here are my tips.

  • Learn the picking rhythm. Local growers generally try to pick mid-week for deliveries on Wednesday and then again on the weekend.  So you might try your local produce stand on Wednesday or the new Chattanooga Market at the First Tennessee pavilion Wednesdays from 3-6PM.  Then arrive early at the weekend farmers markets.
  • I do endorse the larger growers in our area, Flat Top Mountain, northeast Alabama & the 411 corridor in East Tennessee.  I got some beauties at Linda’s produce in East Ridge.  They came from a grower in 
    Calhoun, TN.  I also got some good ones from north Georgia this year.  I have tried berries this season from local farmers at the markets who just grow a few berries on the side.  And they’re not as good.  Could be from over watering.  It makes a berry look better, but they need dry conditions to sweeten.
  • Beware California berries.  Your local grocery store or fruit stand will stock them when they don’t have the locals.  You can’t blame them, they have to sell whether the crop is in or not.  But it’s up to the wise consumer to know the difference.  The best way is to just ask.  But you can also spot a California berry by sight.  They are big and beautiful, but hard and tasteless.  
  • Take a look at the berries I found at a local produce stand this week.  They look beautiful, but a small local berry will taste much sweeter.  Also beware of berries with green on them.  That means they were picked before they could ripen.  And unlike tomatoes, strawberries will not ripen after they are picked.  That’s why local berries always taste better.


Calhoun berries from Linda’s Produce

California berries I found this week at another Produce Stand


These smaller berries were the best I’ve had this season so far.

Keep up with the fruits and veggies that are in season & where to find them by checking out the What’s Fresh, Chattanooga Facebook page.
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