Strawberries require very specific conditions in order to flower and produce fruit. They grow best when temperatures are between 50°F–80°F and require less than 14 hours of daylight. In Florida, these conditions occur throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Strawberries in Florida are planted between September and early November. They are ready to harvest beginning in December and will continue to flower and fruit through April or May.
For planting, it is best to use transplants. Transplants are inserted into holes in black plastic mulch. Typically, the strawberries are covered with black plastic mulch to keep the garden bed free of weeds and to keep soil off of the berries. In four to six weeks, the strawberries are ready to be harvested. Strawberries should only be harvested when they are three-quarters red on their surface.
Every year in the spring, the Florida Strawberry Festival welcomes visitors from throughout the Sunshine State and all around the world. The large festival is located in a charming town called Plant City in Hillsborough County. It exhibits agriculture, commerce, industry, livestock, fine arts, horticulture, and crafts throughout the booths of many vendors. The festival is perfect to enjoy eating ripe, luscious strawberries alongside the local berry farmers that have worked hard to bring to them to market. More than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted annually in Plant City in preparation for this festival. Overall, strawberries bring an economic impact on Hillsborough County exceeding $1.1 billion. The harvesting of strawberries in Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk County in state of Florida accounts for approximately 13% of the production of strawberries nationwide.
Recipe: Strawberry Peanut Butter Blondies
Strawberries can be used to make all kinds of sweet treats such as Strawberry and Peanut Butter Blondies!
- 1 cup Florida strawberries, sliced
- ½ cup salted Florida peanuts, chopped fine
- ½ cup natural Florida sugar
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup peanut butter chip
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ¼ cups natural all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon set aside
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the cup of butter in a small saucepan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Stir until well combined. Add the eggs including the extra yolk and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
In another smaller mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Make sure the dry ingredients are mixed well. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined. Add the chips and chopped nuts into the blondie batter and fold to combine.
Lightly grease or spray a 13 x 9 inch pan. Evenly spread blondie batter into baking pan. Add the sliced strawberries to the small bowl used for the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries with the tablespoon of cornstarch and lightly stir to try to evenly coat. Place the lightly coated strawberries on top of the blondie batter in an even way. Bake strawberry blondies in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Let the blondies cool completely before cutting and serving.
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