As a California Strawberries Ambassador I was recently invited to attend their 365 Days of California Strawberries Farm & Culinary Event in Southern California with a group of bloggers. I love strawberries, farms, and learning about food – plus the opportunity to get a little bit of sunshine is always a bonus when you live in the Pacific Northwest. The event included a visit to Terry Strawberry Farm in Oxnard to learn all about California strawberries and farming.
We started out with a strawberry inspired dinner on Ventura Beach. The menu included strawberry basil mojitos, strawberry gazpacho, strawberry & goat cheese bruschetta, strawberry bbq chicken, and salmon with strawberry mango salsa. Dessert included strawberry shortcakes and chocolate covered strawberries.
That evening there was an information session on the importance of hand washing for those who work on strawberry farms. The strawberries are picked when ripe -they barely ripen after being picked -, packaged and shipped off immediately. Because strawberries are delicate, they are not washed in between being picked and packaged/shipped – this makes it very crucial for workers to be trained about the importance of keeping their hands clean when picking the fruit.
The following morning we visited Terry Farms for a tour of the strawberry farm. The tour was led by owner Edgar Terry and his son William. Here are some interesting California strawberry facts:
- California is the largest producer of strawberries; about 90% of strawberries in the US are grown in California.
- California’s soil, location and moderate climate make it perfect for strawberries to be grown year-round.
- Strawberries are a great source of fiber, folate and potassium. Just 8 strawberries, about 1 cup, have more vitamin C than an orange.
- California’s strawberry farmers use less than one percent of California’s cropland, but create nearly 10 percent of all California’s farm-related jobs.
After the tour of the farm, and tasting several varieties of ripe strawberries, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. The meal was strawberry themed (obviously) and was prepared by Chef Jasmine Wolfe of The Lobos food truck. Lunch started with strawberries stuffed with a mix of farmers cheese and fresh herbs, then rolled in pecan bacon dust. Doesn’t bacon dust sound magical?
Next was a tasty kale salad with strawberries, red grapes, spicy candied pecans and blue cheese with raspberry honey vinaigrette. This was followed by grilled chicken tacos with a strawberry, serrano, corn, onion and avocado salsa – and topped with anejo cheese. The next course was a peanut butter, strawberry jam & bacon kobe beef slider on brioche – served with waffle fries and strawberry ketchup. The last savory course, and my personal favorite, was a surf & turf of babyback ribs with strawberry bbq sauce and crabcakes with a strawberry honeydew salsa. For dessert we were served strawberry shortcakes in a jar and strawberry popsicles.
I had a wonderful time, learned a lot of interesting facts about California strawberries, met some great people, and ate amazing food. I came home completely inspired and ready to prepare my own strawberry dishes. The first thing I made with strawberries as soon as I got back was this super easy strawberry cake.
*Disclosure: This event and post were sponsored by California Strawberries. All photos, opinions and ideas are 100% my own.