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Sweet news: Strawberry season not quite over yet
Manteca strawberry farmer Pham Saechao shows off some of the freshly picked strawberries on sale at the fruit stand on West Yosemite Avenue located west of McKinley Avenue. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent

It’s still strawberry season, but not for long. Several strawberry fruit stands are done for the year and are busy planting the next crop.

In Manteca, there is still one strawberry farm that continues to pick and sell the juicy and fresh berries in their fruit stand located right next to the field. Like the other strawberry farms, that proximity to the point of sale provides the guarantee that what you are buying is just-picked fresh.

The couple’s fruit stand is located on West Yosemite Avenue, corner of D’Arcy Parkway west of McKinley Avenue. The strawberries this late in the season are smaller than the early-spring crop but they are much sweeter, said Saelee.

“They are sweeter because they are smaller and more packed with flavor; they have a higher sugar content,” he explained.

That’s partly because it’s almost past the season and the strawberries take longer to ripen at the vine, he said. It’s precisely for that reason the fruit stand is open just on weekends — for the next few weeks into September, at least. They will be open Saturday and Sunday this Labor Day weekend from 9 to 6:30 p.m. or when the fruit is all sold out.

The other good news is that while these late-season strawberries are sweeter, though decidedly smaller, the price remains the same as the spring crop — $2 per basket, $19 for a full flat of 12 baskets.

This late variety of strawberry is the Albion which is noted for its longevity. Because its productivity lasts longer than the other varieties like the Chandler, the bareroots are more expensive than the others.

The Chandlers are popular among strawberry lovers because of their giant size. They are a favorite palate pleaser due to their impressive size which make them ideal for culinary dessert creations such as chocolate-covered confections.

Stop by the West Yosemite strawberry fruit stand in the early to mid-spring and chances are they will have some samples of these chocolate-dipped taste-bud delights.

While strawberry is the main attraction at these seasonal farm roadside stands, they also often carry a variety of vegetables to offer customers. At the West Yosemite Avenue fruitstand, customers can invariably purchase, in addition to their strawberries, such vegetables as tomatoes — both the large (beefsteak, for example) and small (cherry and grape) varieties, cabbage, broccoli, long beans, snow peas and sweet peas, bell peppers and hot chili peppers, and bitter melon as well as herbs such as lemon grass and cilantro, all fresh-picked in the fields as well.