In the Store with Sigona’s Featuring: Local Strawberries from Watsonville

The Sweetest Strawberries come from Watsonville!

Diane Rezendes, food writer

Another day, another delivery of fresh-picked strawberries. While most of us are still asleep, grower Esteban Martinez, his family, and their employees at Martinez Farms are working on orders, getting ready to pick the most perfectly ripe berries, and loading the trucks to begin their deliveries.

Pretty much the only way you could get them any fresher would be to drive there and pick them yourself!

Know your berry

Right now we’re featuring the Albion variety, developed in 2006 at the University of California. The Albion is a relatively new variety, and was developed specifically for the growing conditions here. It’s growing in popularity, and we think you’ll really enjoy it.

Know your grower

The Martinez family is committed not only to sustainable growing practices, but also to keeping close ties with the land and community. And their dedication extends well beyond the fields they so thoughtfully cultivate.

In Watsonville, his sisters helped start the Pesticide Action Network; near their family’s ancestral home in Mexico, they run a shelter for abused mothers and their children under the name “Little Butterfly.”

Warm weather, longer days, and a spring menu suggestion

With warm weather expected for the remainder of the week, and with the sun lingering just a bit longer each evening, you might feel like a lighter menu, and an alfresco one at that.

Why not make a weeknight feel more like a Friday night with a simple, yet festive menu? Consider grilling some of our line-caught wild salmon, fresh-picked asparagus, and new potatoes. Just brush each with some of our fresh press extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Finish the salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice. After all, when you’re working with the best in-season ingredients, you need little else.

Strawberries and cream make a perfect finish. (Lactose-sensitive? Drizzle just a little of our Balsamic vinegar over the strawberries. You’ll find the acidity of the vinegar only enhances the sweetness of the berries). Sublime.

Choosing and using:

Look for firm berries with a rich, red color and sheen. To be sure your strawberries taste their best, look for fresh-picked, local berries and try to use them within a day or two. And do bring them to room temperature. You’ll be so glad you did. A berry at room temperature will explode with flavor and fill the room with a sweet, tantalizing fragrance. (This is a good tip for most fruits, in fact.)

Don’t wash them right away – like all berries, they are somewhat delicate, and keeping them relatively dry on the surface will extend their life. Do wash them, caps attached, just before you are ready to enjoy them, and then either eat them out of your hand or prepare in accordance with your recipe.

And don’t forget your coupon!

For our coupon giveaway this week, we’re offering you two free baskets of these yummy strawberries. Add some whipped cream or Balsamic, dredge them in sugar or dip them in chocolate. Or be a purist and just eat them right out of the basket.

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