2014 marks the first year we have offered strawberries out of season. Oregon’s season that is. During the strawberry season we buy all of our berries from Nanneman’s on Silverton Road. Now that we have our cafe and are open year round, this poses a challenge.
Our customers want strawberries outside of the local season. How can you have a Nutella, Banana and Strawberry Crêpe without strawberries? What would Tinker and Evans have been without Chance? So this year we bought commodity California berries in the spring year and fall. Sometimes they had an acceptable flavor, sometimes not. But they are always popular. Until they became unavailable, in part due to the California Drought. This forced us to consider using (gasp!) frozen strawberries.
Fresh VS. Frozen
In general, in the debate between fresh and frozen, we come down on the side of fresh. So we headed out to our out-of-season blueberry provider Willamette Valley Pie Company (née Willamette Valley Fruit Company) and picked up a case of their IQF Whole Strawberries. In case you don’t know, IQF stands for Individually Quick Frozen. Each berry, after it is is washed and sorted heads into a blast freezer on conveyor and is frozen by itself. This is not your “let’s put it in the freezer’ frozen. These freezers freeze at about -40. That’s cold (Notice there is no C or F with the temperature? That is because 40 below 0 Fahrenheit and 40 below 0 centigrade(Celsius) are the same number.) So however you measure it, it is cold.
After extensive taste testing (oh, the things we suffer for our customers….) we believe that local IQF Strawberries are better than the out-of-state fresh berries. They taste great. Full of flavor. As good as local fresh strawberries? Not quite but the better choice.
So we’re a believer: Local IQF strawberries trump Fresh out-of-state strawberries. They may not look as pretty, but we’re here for the taste.