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Farmers' market yields a strawberry nirvana

If you’ve been to the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market lately, then you’ve see n the good news for yourself: it’s strawberry season in Oregon.

Strawberries have been a part of Oregon history since 1846, when Henderson Luelling brought strawberry plants with him from Iowa and found they grew spectacularly well in the fertile Willamette Valley.

Luelling quickly opened a nursery in Milwaukie, and was soon advertising a variety of strawberries called Wilsons. This summer, you’ll find about 10 varieties at the Hillsboro market.

Oregon has the perfect berry-growing climate. Long, mild springs and early summers give the berries plenty of time to hang on the vine and come to a slow, perfect ripeness. The warm days and cool nights help the berries store lots of sugar for the sweetest taste. Oregon farmers have spent generations selecting the best varieties for our climate, and the result is deep red, sweet fruit. There are a handful of varieties in the markets now, but as the season progresses through June and July, expect to see a lot more.

Here’s a brief guide to some common Oregon strawberries:

n Albions are firm, good-sized berries that hold up well during cooking, making them perfect for jams and pies. They’re one of the earliest varieties, and have been in the markets for a couple weeks already.

n Hoods are small- to medium-sized berries with an intense sweet and juicy flavor. Many Oregonians’ favorite strawberry, some Hoods are hitting the markets now with more on the way.

n Totems are another June-ripening berry, one of the most commonly grown for their all-around appeal for baking or just snacking.

When selecting berries, many people go for bright red color, but the aroma gives you the best indication of a strawberry’s flavor. If you can smell the berries just walking by a booth, look no further. You’ve found strawberry nirvana.

There are 16 farms with strawberries participating in the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market. You can find strawberries at the downtown Hillsboro market on Saturdays, the Orenco Station market on Sundays, and the Tanasbourne market on Wednesdays.

For more information, visit hillsboromarkets.org.

Erin Greene is events coordinator for the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market.



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