Even though straw­ber­ries are grown year-​round in Cal­i­for­nia, it seems like we appre­ci­ate them more when they are at peak of sea­son.

Inclement weather this year has kept us guess­ing as to when the robust strawberry-​producing regions around the state will see some good spring vol­umes.

From San Diego to Mon­terey (Watsonville/​Salinas), Cal­i­for­nia has sev­eral straw­berry vari­eties in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion. Each one has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, advan­tages and har­vest time.

Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sci­en­tists have bred straw­berry qual­ity stan­dards for size, firm­ness, shelf life, yield, and resis­tance to dis­ease. By name, some vari­eties include Aro­mas, Camarosa, Camino Real, Chan­dler and Ven­tana.

Con­sumers usu­ally never see the vari­etal named, but we know what we like. Sup­ple, juicy, sweet-​tart berries that make us grate­ful for short­cake, waf­fles and chocolate.

April and May are typ­i­cally peak sea­son months for Cal­i­for­nia grown straw­ber­ries. When it hits, the berries are abun­dant in sup­ply and very good eat­ing. There is then a strong case to be made for every­thing goes with straw­berry. Green sal­ads, toast, savory bites and sump­tu­ous desserts all get bet­ter with the gen­er­ous addi­tion of fresh straw­ber­ries.

Whether at the gro­cery mar­ket or farm stand, be picky when choos­ing straw­ber­ries.

Select brightly col­ored, shiny berries that are dry, firm, and plump. They should still have fresh-​looking green caps (calyx) attached.

Avoid soft, dull or shriv­eled look­ing berries. Straw­ber­ries do not ripen after being picked. Try to skip those with partly white tops as that por­tion will remain unripe. With grow­ing expec­ta­tions of straw­ber­ries on demand (hav­ing them year-​round), this will inevitably be dif­fi­cult to avoid.

Wait­ing for spring straw­ber­ries at their prime makes them a cel­e­brated rite of pas­sage. Look to Easter, Mother’s Day and Memo­r­ial Day hol­i­days as cen­ter stage for straw­ber­ries. How winter’s Valentine’s Day secured straw­ber­ries as it’s notable fruit mas­cot is beyond reason.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.