I have always hated how quickly my pint of Fresh from Florida Strawberries go bad after just a few days. To maximize the shelf life and freshness , I have rinsed, diced and then stored my strawberries in a mason jar to preserve them. It gets me an extra 2-3 days, which I thought was great. Little did I know, I was doing it wrong, and you probably are too.
When Jason and I were venue shopping for our wedding, I never dreamed I wanted a rustic, ranch-like day. I always fantasized of a swanky-ish hotel with blacks, damask, and a kind of formal setting. Until I saw our venue – and became emotional. That’s when I knew Cross Creek Ranch in Dover, Florida was where we were meant to wed. I think a big part of it, was how much it reminded me of my future husband, a fourth generation Floridian.
After we said, “I do!”, I worked at our wedding venue for a season helping to set-up and coordinate weddings for others, and I loved it so much.
What does my wedding, and a brief stint at a wedding venue have to do with strawberries, you’re probably wondering? Welllllll, on my drive in every day, I’d pass several farms that allowed you to come and pick your own strawberries. Our wedding venue was just minutes away, from the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World! So when I pass those “u-pick” farms, it brings back fond memories as a newlywed.
Last month, the #SundaySupper fam joined yet again for a live event over the weekend. This time, featuring fresh Florida strawberries, with the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA). It’s not an event I will soon forget! Then again how could I? Lots of knowledge, lots of food, and several ah-mazing meals at some of my favorite places in South Tampa.
Our first day, Saturday, started off by meeting at Epicurean Hotel before heading into Dover, FL (the FSGA HQ are located here) where we met with Strawberry Sue (no really, this woman IS Strawberry Sue – when it comes to strawberries, she knows it all, and she’s done it all), all the other fine folks from the FSGA, and of course, Jammer.
We then picked fresh strawberries from Mike Lott’s Farm, in Plant City, took photos and/or selfies with a tractor (not me! I snapped photos outside said tractor), and learned what it takes to keep those berries fresh from the field to the grocery, thanks to Astin Strawberry Exchange.
A quick lunch stop at Old Town Pizzeria was had (no photos because I was too busy chowing down on #pizza), before we made our way to the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds. The festival is a big deal in Hillsborough county and boasts over 2700 volunteers each year. That number blows my mind, and I love that there’s so much kitschy charm within Plant City.
One last educational jaunt took us to the Gulf Coast Research Center to visit with Dr. Vance Whitaker, and learn about strawberry breeding.
A (very) common question that continued to come up throughout our first day, “How can I get my strawberries to last longer than 2-3 days?” The answer, it seems is simple: Store your Florida strawberries in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Keep those berries packaged their clam-shell container and do not wash berries until just before eating or preserving.
I have since tried this at home, and guesssssss what? That’s how you store your strawberries – I had no idea.
After a day of learning, it was time to unwind. The #SundaySupper gang enjoyed an ah-mazing dinner at Cask Social Kitchen in South Tampa before heading back to our gorgeous rooms at Epicurean Hotel and dreaming of strawberries…or, something like that.
Sunday was another day of learning from the comfort of the Epicurean Theatre. From cooking demos with Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood in St. Petersburg, and mixology classes, to photography sessions with Kita of Pass the Sushi and Jimmy Fashner, whose instagram profile is seriously impressive!
At the end of the weekend, Isabel, the founder of the Sunday Supper Movement asked me if I liked or disliked anything more or less than the last live event with the Sunday Supper team (Certified Angus Beef). One event was in Ohio, and one in my backyard. But at the time of her question, I couldn’t think of a thing – and then I realized why. Both brands take such pride in their business. They come from farming families, and they’re both passionate about what they do. Working with brands like this, learning more about them, is why I’m a proud to be a blogger, with the Sunday Supper Movement.