Strawberry Picking

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So anyways, we’re smack in the middle of the strawberry season. But isn’t it just the start of spring? Ah yes, but here on the Sunshine Coast our season runs from May through to October. The first strawberries begin appearing around Mother’s Day and come Melbourne Cup Day they’re gone.

Fun fact 1: Queensland supplies the winter production of strawberries for the rest of the country and most of them (about 85%) are grown here on the Sunshine Coast – although Bundaberg is now also growing strawberries and there are some producers even further up north on the Atherton Tablelands. 

We’re lucky – the strawberries that we buy at our weekly farmer’s market haven’t been anywhere near cold storage. They’re low on food miles and taste the way that strawberries are meant to taste. The way they never seem to taste in the city.

Fun fact 2: Strawberries have to be picked when they’re ripe. They won’t ripen any more once they’ve been picked.

Picking your own…

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There’s something about picking your own fruit though – and luckily, we have places where you can do that. What’s not to love? Some Vitamin D, the smell of warm strawberries all around, the promise of the freshest tastiest fruit and a strawberry icecream at the end of it.

Fun Fact 3: Technically the strawberry is not a berry, but a member of the rose family. Don’t say you don’t learn anything here!

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McMartin’s Farm

BLI BLI

After we finished picking we went for a bit of a stroll around to check out the views and see what else was growing.

Not only are the strawberries fabulous here, but the ice cream is next-level good. Made on premises it contains about 30% fruit – that’s a lot of fruit.

You can, of course, get a Devonshire tea here as well, but we stuck with the ice cream.

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There’s even a playground for the kids.

Open 7 days between June and October. Check the website for dates.

At the time of our visit it was $13 per kilo. You can get them cheaper at the markets, but it’s not nearly as much fun.

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Strawberry Fields

Palmview

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With picnic areas, lawns for the kids to run around, a farm shop and a café there’s more to do than pick strawberries – although that’s obviously what you go for.

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Open 7 days between June and November. Check the website for dates. At the time of our visit it was $14 per kilo. We picked 2kgs and I bought another 3 kgs of jam strawberries for $5.

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For more places where you can pick your own, check out this list.

Hinterland Harvest Market – and 3 ways with ginger…and peanut butter…

As part of our quest to buy local wherever possible, we took ourselves off to Hinterland Harvest Markets at Woombye last Saturday morning. It was a drizzly morning, but the produce was fabulous – as were the stallholders…and before we knew it, we’d whiled away a couple of hours.

My key buys were:

  • Crunch from Pip’s Real Food. This is a gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar brekky granola that tastes amazing. I couldn’t decide which of her crunches that I liked best, so bought one of each. My problem is now eating it quickly enough so I have an excuse to go back and chat to Pip. I was so busy chatting that I forgot to take a pic of her stall, so here’s one I snaffled from her Facebook page.

  • Local limes, finger limes, avocados, and bananas. The finger limes have been put to good use in vodka…
  • Locally grown ginger and turmeric
  • Organic, free range eggs – beautifully sunny yellow yolks the way they’re meant to be
  • Tomatoes that taste like tomatoes taste before they’re sprayed, transported huge distances and kept in cold storage
  • Some extremely good sour dough bread
  • Cheese from Gympie Farm and Woombye Cheese company – yes, I know that I don’t tolerate dairy real well these days, but this cheese was worth it.
  • Daryl’s peanut butter – that I was assured is the best peanut butter that I’ll ever taste. I later discovered that even though the peanuts are from Kingaroy, the product itself is from Melbourne. Oh well.

What did I do with it?

First up was the peanut butter. The best I’d ever tried? Now that’s a challenge. It was pretty good, so as well as spreading it on the sourdough for brekky when we got home, I also made these peanut and choc chip cookies with it. The thing about using real peanut butter in this recipe, though, is that because it doesn’t have all the added sugar and oil that commercial peanut butter has, you need to add some extra brown sugar and butter. This makes the cookie a tad shorter, but no less tasty.

I’ve blogged the recipe before – you can find it here.

I also used the peanut butter in a satay dressing. This works perfectly on barbecued chicken thighs, or, when you’re not feeling like barbecuing chicken thighs, store-bought barbecue chicken – shredded – and tossed through some wombok, cucumber, capsicum, shredded carrot or whatever other veggie you have in the crisper.

Oh, what goes in it? About a ¼ cup of peanut butter, a couple of teaspoons of grated ginger, around 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, a pinch or so of chilli flakes, and a ½ cup of boiling water. Shake it all about and drizzle over the chicken and salad ingredients. It’s pretty easy to turn this into a satay sauce too – just by adding some chopped chilli and a small tin of coconut milk.

As well as the satay dressing, I also used the ginger and turmeric in a Kapitan chicken paste. It’s my hubby’s favourite and we’re having that tonight…you can find the recipe here.

The ginger was so young and tender – barely toddling – that I figured it needed to be used in something in which it could star – Chicken With Ginger Sauce. This is a Vietnamese dish from a book I was lucky enough to be given by the hotel where we stayed in Hoi An. If you book (directly with Maison Vy) for more than 5 nights, this is just one of the fabulous rewards on offer.

What you need…

  • 500g chicken thighs, sliced
  • 1tbsp shallots, pounded into a paste in your mortar and pestle (or is it pestle and mortar?)
  • ¼ cup ginger, sliced super fine
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 cups onion slices – I used 1 brown onion and a few shallots
  • 12 spring onion stalks – the white part only. These can be whole or chopped to a manageable length…your call.
  • ¼ teasp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil – I use rice bran oil

What you do with it…

  • Add the oil to a heated wok. Toss in the onions, spring onions, ginger, and shallot paste.
  • Stir it round for a minute or so and then add the chicken, fish sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, and chilli.
  • Stir fry for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked and serve it with steamed rice.

Super quick, super tasty.

If you want further info on the markets, you’ll find it here. The Hinterland Harvest Markets are on in Woombye every Saturday from 6-11am during the summer, and 7am- 12pm in the winter.

Pip’s super crunch can be found here – and is well worth seeking out… (I’m enjoying it with Maleny Dairies yoghurt for brekky after my sunrise walks)