Florida Strawberries

The SWEETEST THING: The Florida Strawberry

Did you know February is Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month? In fact, Plant City is recognized as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World and is the dominant supplier of strawberries in the United States from November through March. Pretty sweet, right?

Here’s another fun fact: Most of our Florida strawberries are grown within a 20-mile radius of Plant City by about 100 growers. And it’s a true family affair, with some families who have been growing the berries for five generations.

There is even a festival dedicated to this fabulous berry. The 89th annual Florida Strawberry Festival runs Feb. 29 through March 10. If you’re new in town, it’s a not-to-miss event featuring nearly 20 live concerts, food, rides, demonstrations and, of course, all things strawberry!

The Florida strawberry is an important part of what puts Tampa Bay on the map along with our beaches and attractions. And since it’s pretty delicious too, we wanted to find out how to get the most out of our Florida strawberries in our own kitchen.

We recently caught up with Sue Harrell, also known as Strawberry Sue, with the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, to share her expert advice on how to best store and prepare your farm fresh berries.

Did you know…that Strawberry Shortcake was named as the state dessert in 2022?

Florida Strawberries
‘Strawberry Sue’ Harrell

Pro Tips: How to Store and Prepare Farm Fresh Florida Strawberries:

What to Look for in the Grocery Store:

  • Look for Florida strawberries!
  • When shopping for strawberries, select those that are firm, plump and fragrant and have a bright glossy-red appearance. Their fringed caps should be bright green and look fresh, too.
  • At the point of purchase, berries should be firm, but not crunchy. Avoid bruised or shriveled berries or those having a dull appearance.


How to Store Strawberries:

  • To help berries retain flavor, texture and nutrients, avoid washing or removing their caps until ready to serve.
  • Cool berries as soon as possible and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


How to Prepare Strawberries:

  • No need to bring out other equipment when you are ready to serve strawberries. Use the convenient clamshell container they came in as a colander. The clamshell has perforations that make it perfect for a quick rinse and drain.
  • Strawberries taste best at room temperature. Remove the berries from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving.
  • Remove the green caps with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife. It’s as easy as a twist of the wrist.
  • Like most fresh produce, strawberries are best when eaten fresh. Enjoy Florida strawberries within three to four days of purchase.
  • A dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or orange juice will bring out the flavor of strawberries.

The SWEETEST THING: The Florida Strawberry

You can purchase the Florida Strawberries Cookbook at floridastrawberry.org where you can also find delicious recipes featuring the fantastic strawberry!

Originally published in February 2024 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.