Although Europeans are credited with the discovery of the strawberry in 1588, America made the discovery possible. At that time, the Algonquin peoples already had deemed the seventh full moon of the year, the June full moon, the Strawberry Moon — so named because it marked peak season for wild strawberries.
Today’s cultivated strawberry is different from that wild strawberry. The strawberries you’ll find at the Napa Farmers Market are a hybrid of two species native to the Americas: one species from North America (Fragaria virginiana) and one from Chile (Fragaria chiloensi). They are actually members of the rose family.
Modern strawberries are one of three types: June-bearing, everbearing or day-neutral. June-bearing strawberries produce fruit for about three weeks each year. Everbearing strawberry cultivars have two seasons: spring and fall. Day-neutral cultivars respond to temperature rather than daylight hours and will produce fruit as long as the temperature remains between 35 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Day-neutral cultivars will also produce berries their first year, while June-bearing varieties will not.
If you would like to get strawberry plants for your own garden, you can purchase them at the Napa Farmers Market from Big Ranch Farms or Morningsun Herb Farm. If you prefer to skip the cultivation and go right for the fruit, you have more options at the market. Just about every market vendor selling strawberries is happy to offer you a sample.
The farms selling strawberries at the Napa Farmers Market include Big Ranch Farms, Esquivel Farms, J & J Ramos Farms, Kenwood Strawberry Patch and Rodriguez Farms. Esquivel Farms and Rodriguez Farms bring certified-organic strawberries.
With the summer solstice just about a week away, it’s strawberry pie time. At my house, this pie marks the debut of summer and offers the flavor of summers past.
Charlotte’s Strawberry Rosemary Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup strawberry gelatin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
1 sprig of rosemary to garnish, optional
Whipped cream, optional
Prick the inside of the crust with a fork and bake at 400°F until done, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, gelatin, cornstarch and rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking. Place the pan in an ice bath to cool quickly, whisking occasionally until the glaze becomes slightly translucent and begins to thicken.
Arrange the sliced berries in the cooled pie crust and pour the glaze over the top, being sure to fill in all the space between the berries.
Chill before serving. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve with whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes one 9-inch pie