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Dining In: High anticipation for the strawberry crop

Strawberries are here, just in time for holiday picnics and to kick off the parade of local fruits we can enjoy over the next five months.

Despite the changing weather we experienced recently, the traditional Memorial Day favorite has arrived right on time.

“It has the potential to be a great crop,” said Amy Manoff, who owns Manoff Market Gardens in Solebury with her husband, Gary.

In addition to field-grown berries which are popular for pick-your-own, the Manoffs have berries grown in high tunnels that ripen before the rest of the crop. That’s why the farm will have plenty of berries this weekend for holiday desserts and salads.

The Manoffs also grow a variety of types of berries, which ripen at different times. That means that if the weather cooperates, they could have berries almost through the month of June, which is good news for those who like to eat them fresh, make jam, add them to salads or bake them in pies, muffins and breads.

The Manoffs are one of many strawberry growers in Bucks County and beyond. Other local berry farms include Brumbaugh’s Farm in Telford, Fairview Farm in Pineville, Hellerick’s Farm north of Doylestown, Lapinski Farm in Dublin, Milk House Farm near Washington Crossing, Peace Valley Winery in Chalfont, Penn Vermont Fruit Farm in Bedminster, Rick’s Egg Farm in Kintnersville, Shady Brook Farm outside Yardley, Tabora Farm & Orchard in Chalfont, The Market at DelVal College outside Doylestown and Trauger’s Farm Market in Kintnersville. Terhune Orchards in Princeton, N.J., also grows strawberries.

One of the simplest but most satisfying ways to enjoy strawberries is with homemade shortcake. This recipe is from Mary Nolan of

Strawberry Shortcake
1½ pounds strawberries,
stemmed and quartered
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups heavy cream

Whipped cream(recipe follows):
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated
lemon zest

1. Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined.
4. Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch-square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally. Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

Whipped Cream:
Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 1½ to 2 minutes.

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