Germans love to spend their time outdoors. Even better if you can keep the kids occupied at the same time. Strawberry fields make for a great family outing opportunity. Not only are those sweet treats great for snacking, but also awesome in cakes, jams or even salads.

With May comes the time for the first fresh fruits and vegetables of the year, asparagus and strawberries being the crops that start up the season. It is not surprising that they are served all over in Germany’s restaurants. There are also several Erdbeerfests, or Strawberry fests throughout May and June in Germany, like in Esslingen on June 1, 2019, or the Erdbeerfest in Oberkirch on May 25, 2019.

Much like back in the States, as soon as the strawberries ripen up, booths are set up alongside the fields, and you can pick or just buy them by the basket or pallet. Signs usually read something like “Selbstpflücken” meaning, pick on your own and you pay by weight.

It’s a wonderful and tasty experience for kids, as they can taste the berries right off the vine and help out picking. It is a good idea to bring sunscreen and a hat on sunny days, since the spring sun gets quite intense. Rubber boots are also great if it’s been raining, because not all fields have straw laying out on the pathways.

Once you get your sweet morsels home, you want to wash them and store them in the fridge until you use them. Fresh strawberries do not have a long shelf life, so using them quickly is advised.

The first load of strawberries my mom always just washed, quartered and sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice. They make a great dessert by themselves and are even better with ice cream, pudding or whipped cream. You can also serve them with fresh yogurt or quark.

Strawberries are so versatile; personally I love turning them into jams. There are so many varieties to choose from, like strawberry/rhubarb, strawberry/vanilla or an exotic strawberry/mango; the possibilities are endless. My family’s favorite will always be the classic strawberry jam, though. Strawberry cakes or tarts are another great way to “dispose” of all those self-picked berries, and during the strawberry season, most German stores sell “cake kits” for strawberries. Those kits usually have a sponge cake bottom, vanilla pudding and a red glaze. The cake is easily assembled, too; just wash and cut the berries in half, spread the vanilla pudding on top of the sponge cake, add the strawberries and cover with the glaze… done! Makes for a delicious dessert or snack.

Any left-over strawberries you will want to freeze, before they spoil. While they do get mushy when dethawed, they are still great for jams or sweet strawberry sauces over vanilla ice cream.

I always end up getting a couple of pallets, turn them into delicious jams and give them out as gifts during the holiday season. With all the different fruits coming up during the year, it makes for quite a collection by the end of the year.

Happy eating ?