Extension Explores Strawberries

Let's Get "Berried" Contest Information

Got a favorite strawberry recipe USING jam, jelly, preserves or frozen strawberries? Then the May Extension Explores contest is for you. 

Please send your recipe and a picture of the finished product to Paula May by Friday, May 27th.

The winning recipe will be posted in the June Extension Explores newsletter and the winner will receive a strawberry huller.

So get out your favorite ‘berried’ recipe and submit it by Friday, May 27th.

Photo Source

Email Paula May Your Entry Here

It's Almost Fair Time in Tennessee!

It’s almost summer which means fair season is right around the corner! Save the date for your county fair and get ready to bring your best home preserved items! Click the images below to see them in a PDF document. 

Gardening Tips

Strawberries are the most cultivated small fruit in American gardens. Strawberries can adapt to a large range of soil and climate conditions. Combine that with their many uses and strawberries can be found in home gardens all across the state of Tennessee 

Choose the right variety! The following varieties are suitable to grow in home gardens in Tennessee:

  • Earliglow- very disease resistant and superior dessert quality
  • Noreaster- very early ripening variety
  • Cardinal- vigorous, productive variety
  • Delmarvel- disease resistant variety
  • Lateglow- high yielding variety
  • Latestar- large fruited, glossy-red, productive variety

Everbearing varieties do not perform as well as regular varieties. 

Choose the right site! Make sure you protect your plants from early frost potential. Strawberries also like a sandy and loamy soil with a pH 5.7 to 6.5.

Soil test!!! Although strawberries seldom need fertilizer the only way to know is a soil test. Soil tests can be done by your local UT/TSU Cheatham County Extension Office.

To learn more about strawberry production please feel free to call the Cheatham County UT-TSU Extension Office at 615-792-4420 or check out this great publication from the University of Arkansas.  Photo Source

Safety Tips for Handling Fresh Strawberries

General Sanitation 


Like any other fresh fruit or vegetable, strawberries can be contaminated with bacteria from soil, water, and animal sources. Contamination from human sources may occur during or after harvest, right up to the point of eating. Contaminated produce has been known to cause foodborne illness. Food poisoning outbreaks with other types of produce have occurred when poorly washed utensils or cutting boards (especially those used to handle raw meats) were used to prepare fresh fruits or vegetables. For this reason, it is important that you wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing produce, and use clean equipment, utensils, and cutting surfaces. 


Washing Strawberries 

Strawberries should be washed just before eating or preserving. To wash, rinse strawberries thoroughly under cool running water, drain in a clean strainer, and pat dry with a clean paper towel. For maximum cleaning, gently rub each berry under the running water. 

Washing strawberries in a sink filled with water is not recommended since the standing water can spread contamination from one berry to another. The use of soap or detergent is not recommended or approved for washing fruits and vegetables because the produce can absorb detergent residues.  


Cutting Strawberries 

Sort fruit and discard unripe, overripe, or defective fruit. Remove and discard the green cap (leafy part) before slicing berries. Wash hands, knives, and surfaces before and after preparation of berries. To maintain quality, cut or sliced strawberries should be covered and refrigerated if they are not eaten within 2 hours of preparation. 

Photo Source

Strawberry Selection

When selecting strawberries, look for a bright, even, red color. They should have a fresh aroma and a healthy green cap. The flavor and sweetness will be best when fully ripe and they won’t ripen anymore after picking. Avoid berries that are poorly colored or have dry, brown caps. Also avoid strawberries that are bruised or damaged, leaking juice, shriveled, or moldy. 

Photo Credit


Oh no! You have worked so hard on preserving those fabulous strawberries, but something went wrong. Let’s spend a little time troubleshooting your problem. 

One of the most common situations is producing a jam or jelly that is too stiff or firm. This can be a result of overcooking, adding too much pectin, using too little fruit and/or juice or using too little sugar. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for ingredients and precise cooking times found in the packages of commercial pectin or see link below for jelly or jam without pectin. 

Take heart! Your stiff jam is not lost. Hard-gelled preserves can be used as meat glazes. Warm the jam or jelly and spread it onto any type of meat during and after cooking. They can also be warmed up for use as pancake or ice cream syrups.  

Another common issue is too soft jams or jellies. Again, be sure to follow the recommendations for cook times and ingredients. Perhaps you: 

  • Made too large of a batch (use only 4-6 cups of juice in each batch) 
  • Moved your product too soon (allow product to rest for at least 12 hours before moving) 
  • Opened too soon (Some fruits take up to 2 weeks to set up completely)  

Follow these links for more information on jams and jellies: 

Photo Source:  National Center for Home Food Preservation

Recipe Using Strawberry Jam


  • 4-6 fresh beets (or pre-roasted beets from the produce section)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bag spinach and spring lettuces salad mix
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese 

Step 1

Place the beets on a large sheet of foil on a baking pan, drizzle with the 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in the foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1—1 1/2 hours or until tender when pierced with a knife. (Or you can use pre-roasted beets, vacuum packed in the produce section of the grocery store and skip to the next step.)

Photo Credit, Whitney Danhof

Strawberry jam can be used on toast or biscuits but it also can be used in recipes for other dishes. Here is a spring salad with a strawberry jam vinaigrette dressing to try. Click the photo above for a PDF version of the recipe. 

Step 2: To make dressing: In a glass jar, microwave the strawberry jam for about 15-20 seconds to loosen. Let cool a few minutes. Add orange juice, water, red wine vinegar, olive oil, thyme, black pepper and a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Shake to combine well. Refrigerate until ready to make salad.

Step 3: When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and thinly slice into rounds and then in half into moon shapes. Toss the spinach and lettuce mix and green onions with some of the dressing to coat. On large serving platter or individual plates, arrange the dressed greens. Top with the beets, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle with a little more of the dressing. Serve immediately.

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Extension Explores Resources

Extension Explores Website

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Extension Explores Content Team

Team Leader

UT-TSU Extension, Cheatham County615-792-4420Aneta Dodd

Team Members

UT-TSU Extension, Bedford County | 931-684-5971Whitney Danhof

UT Extension, Cannon County615-563-2554 | Kristen Jones 

UT-TSU Extension, DeKalb County615-597-4945April Martin

UT Extension, Pickett County931-864-3310 | Amanda Woody 

UT Extension, Robertson County615-384-7936 | Lauren Patterson

UT Extension, Smith County615-735-2900 | Mary Draper

UT Extension, Van Buren County931-946-2435 | Paula May 

UT-TSU Extension, Warren County931-473-8484 | Hilda Lytle 

UT-TSU Extension, Williamson County615-790-5721 | Patsy Watkins 

UT-TSU Extension, Wilson County 615-444-9584 | Shelly Barnes