The recent spell of warm weather means that Finland’s strawberry season is off to a good start in southern and central areas this year.
The Association of Fruit and Berry Growers HML says that even further north, strawberries will start to ripen in the fields over the next week.
The heavy rains in recent days have brought some much-needed moisture to the crops and then the cooler weather has helped with the quality of the fruit. However, the association warns that the very high temperatures in June likely indicates a shorter strawberry season than usual – and urges people to already think about freezing and preserving their strawberries for winter.
“During April and May the temperatures were a little bit cooler and the growing season didn’t advance as fast as it would usually proceed, but during Midsummer and last week the heat and sunny days helped the strawberries ripen nicely to the normal timescale” explains Tomi Pousi from HML.
Strawberries are already available from supermarkets, farms, markets and berry stalls, while self-picking has started and proving to be popular.
“The flavour of strawberries is exceptionally good this year, because it has been warm and sunny and with photosynthesis the strawberries gained so much sugars this summer” Puosi tells News Now Finland.
The Association cautions that strawberries don’t cope well with too much handling, long transportation or high temperatures after picking – and the best way to preseve them is to freeze as soon as possible after they’ve been harvested.
One good tip for home freezing is that in smaller freezers, it’s good to slice or mash the strawberries to reduce their storage space by half.
Raspberries also coming into season now
Finnish raspberries are also coming into season a little earlier than in previous years, as Finnish farmers adopt new methods to help cultivate the popular summer berry.
“Nowadays many raspberry farmers are growing raspberries in growth tunnels which is a new technique in Finland, but in Central Europe or Great Britain most of the raspberries are grown in these plastic tunnels. The conditions are more favourable earlier in the season, and the farmers get the heat inside the plastic tunnels earlier than they would with outdoor conditions” explains HML’s Tomi Pousi.
“In Finland we still have to wait for the outdoor raspberry yield for a few more weeks” he adds.
If you’re picking your own berries for freezing, try to take the strawberries without a stalk to reduce the time it take can choose the berries by yourself, you have to gather them without a stock, in order to reduce the processing of berries at home.