This is a guest post by my dear friend Andrea Duchon. She writes for various outlets such as Seattle Couples Examiner. She has been working as an assistant to Jon Rowley with many Shuksan strawberry related events . I thought it would be great for her to explain why there is so much buzz around this type of strawberry.
I’ll try any food once…and sometimes twice or more if enough time has elapsed
between tastings. While people regularly tell me that taste buds change
every seven years, I’m more inclined to believe that my latest obsession with
strawberries has less to do with my changing tongue and more to do with a
variety of berry called the Shuksan.
Did you know that there are different varieties of strawberries? I didn’t until I met
Jon Rowley and spent a day with him picking Shuksan berries in Skagit Valley.
To help you understand my sudden transformation into a strawberry fiend, I’ve
put together a list of the top five things you should know about Shuksan berries:
1. Farmer’s faves: If you ask a strawberry grower what his favorite variety of
berry is, chances are it will be the Shuksan.
2. Get ‘em while they’re hot: Shuksans are difficult to find and even harder to
keep. Their season is less than three weeks and once picked, their shelf
life is less than 24 hours.
3. Never judge a book: Shuksans aren’t the prettiest berry. Their craggy
surface and irregular shape might fool some but inside, their intense flavor
4. Speaking of the inside: Shuksans are red all the way through. Unlike
California berries that have a white center, the Shuksan is a beautiful
shade of red and produces a deep hued juice when macerated.
5. In it for the long haul: While the Shuksan’s shelf life is short, the berries
are ideal for making jam and freeze well, ensuring that you’ll have tastes
of summer all winter long.
If you’re not able to make it to a farm for picking, there are some great places
around town to try local berries. Anthony’s restaurants source all their berries
daily from area farms. While Shuksans aren’t the only kind of strawberry in
Anthony’s arsenal, you’d be hard pressed to find a better dessert than their
strawberry shortcake. Made with homemade, buttery biscuits and fresh whipped
cream, this dish is the perfect way to celebrate summer in the Northwest.
Another place to find Shuksan berries is at the Queen Anne Farmers’ Market.
Stop by the Thulen Farm stand on Thursdays between 3 and 7 to ask farmer
Chris McKnight what makes his berries so special. If you’re lucky, he may even
give you a sample.