Strawberry shortcake was on the menu for many dads on Father’s Day. The sunny, warm Sunday was perfect for berry picking and the fields were full of sweet, red fruit.
Seven-year-old twins Anthony and Joseph Catallo of Waterford were anxious to get their dad, Joseph Catallo, out to the patch at Bowman Orchards in Rexford.
“I gave him that!” said the younger Joseph Catallo, jumping to point to the new baseball hat on his dad’s head.
“I gave him that!” Anthony Catallo announced proudly, pointing to his father’s “World’s Greatest Dad” T-shirt.
“Can we go?” the boys asked, bouncing eagerly, their eyes on the tractor-pulled wagon that totes patrons to the strawberry field.
Down a dirt track, beyond rows of apple and peach trees, families were scattered throughout straw-covered rows, stooped over the low-growing strawberry plants, bowls and boxes in hand. Some of the sun-warmed berries went into the containers, others into mouths. The sweet smell of strawberries perfumed the breeze.
Moumita and Parthasarathi Mridha of Glenville brought their 6-year-old son, Aman, to pick berries at Bowman’s on Sunday. He proudly held up a partly filled container of the fruit he had picked.
“When you pick something, it always tastes good and it’s a good activity,” said Moumita Mridha, who predicted the berries would all be eaten before the afternoon was over.
Angelo Giunta of Cohoes was lying on his side between rows, red berry stains spotting his jeans and white T-shirt.
“It’s easier to pick them and eat them this way,” he said, popping a handful into his mouth.
His partner, Pat Rhodes of Cohoes, was stooping to pick the berries and his outfit was noticeably stain-free. He even wore a latex glove to protect his berry-picking hand from the red juice. His yellow Tupperware bowl was partially full, and he talked of making strawberry jelly and pie.
“You can’t wear good clothes in a strawberry patch,” he said, shaking his head in amusement at Giunta.
The strawberries are sold by the pound at Bowman’s. Containers are weighed before the picking starts and that weight is noted and subtracted before the final price is tallied. Patrons aren’t weighed before and after visiting the field though, so some of the proceeds are inevitably lost to in-field snackers. But that’s to be expected, said owner Kevin Bowman.
“We have some people who say, ‘Hey, I ate some. Here’s an extra dollar.’ You know, we want you to try them, but not make a pig of yourself,” he said.
The you-pick season started at the orchard May 30 and Bowman expects it will continue through next weekend.
Picking would have started a week earlier if it weren’t for the hot March weather and subsequent freeze, he noted. Early blossoms were killed, but the farm still managed to produce a sizable crop from its six acres of plants.
Bowman’s apple crop was spared any damage from the frost, he noted.
At Cashin’s Berry Farm in Fultonville, owner John Cashin was out making hay on Sunday while his daughter, Elizabeth Cashin, and his mother, Phyllis Cashin, staffed the pick-your-own strawberry stand.
The family has been growing strawberries on their land for 25 years.
Patrons started strawberry picking at Cashin’s last weekend and probably only have one more week to get their fill of the sweet-tasting fruit before the season comes to a close.
“When we had that crazy weather in March where it was super, super warm and the next week we were below freezing again, we thought we weren’t going to have any strawberries at all. When the first wave of blossoms opened up, they were all black. They had frozen. And so we were just biting our nails, waiting to see what was going to happen and luckily our second and third waves of strawberries have come through,” said Elizabeth Cashin.
Despite the wealth of berries on hand, she planned to make shepherd’s pie for her father in honor of Father’s Day. (“We have strawberry shortcake almost every single night throughout the season,” she said.
Greg Morrison of Palatine Bridge spent two hours picking nine quarts of berries at Cashin’s. He was thinking about making a berry crisp for his dad.
Hand-picked berries just taste better, he said. “They’re cheaper than you get in the grocery store, although you have to put in the labor, but it’s fun.”
The Wing family of Johnstown gathered in Cashin’s strawberry patch Sunday.
Two-year-old Jay smiled shyly, an empty green cardboard quart-sized container in hand.
His 9-month-old brother, Nash, watched wide-eyed from a carrier strapped to his mom, Erica Wing.
“It’s good for them to see where [food] comes from, not just the store,” Erica Wing said. “We’ll probably cook together and make something, maybe shortcake. We like to cook in the kitchen together.”
There’s nothing like the taste of sun-warmed strawberries picked straight from the field. But picking your own has a benefit besides the delicious fruit, Elizabeth Cashin said.
She explained: “We’ve had people come in on a Friday after work and they’re like, ‘This is the best therapy there is, just to come out here and relieve the stress of your day, of your whole week, and then start your weekend with fresh fruit and a clear mind.’ ”
Categories: Schenectady County