Sunday, May 22, 2011

Strawberry Season in Virginia

One of the sweetest seasons is underway in Virginia, with strawberries ripening and ready for picking. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says growers in Tidewater and Southside saw strawberry picking first for Mother's Day, followed by central and the rest of Virginia. In Charlottesville, strawberry picking is going on right now! Strawberry season usually lasts through June in cooler parts of Virginia. While Virginia only has 250 acres of strawberry fields, each acre produces a significant amount of fruit. On average, an acre yields about 18,000 pounds of strawberries.

Growers say a relatively cool spring has been good for their berries. The recent hot spell has been the finishing touch on what they're calling a sweet berry season.

Most strawberry seasons last four to five weeks, depending on the heat. If the days get too hot, the plants quit producing berries. Hot weather makes the plant want to shut down, and we don’t want that because we want the season to last as long as possible.

Strawberries are a good source of vitamins A and C and are packed with other nutrients, including calcium, potassium and folate. At only 50 calories per cup, they’re a good-for-you spring food.

Strawberries are well represented at the Virginia Marketplace by Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves. Graves Mountain Lodge is nestled deep in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Syria, Virginia. Graves Mountain Lodge established its cannery in 1980. They use family recipes to make their old-fashioned preserves unmatched for their quality and goodness. They cook their preserves in open kettles. The batches are kept small and each product is made as needed. They use the finest quality fruit, pure cane sugar and all natural seasonings in creating a product they feel is as good as "Grandma used to make."

You can get Graves Mountain Strawberry Preserves
in a set of three and in preserve samplers

in gift boxes

and in gift baskets.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Virginia Foods for Memorial Day

It's almost Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. Observed every year on the last Monday of May, it is a U.S. federal holiday that began after the Civil War as Decoration Day. It was first enacted to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who died while in military service. After World War I it was extended to honor Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day has since also become a long weekend increasingly devoted to barbecues, family get-togehers, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 (since 1911) and the Coca-Cola 600 (since 1960) auto races. Here are some Virginia food ideas from The Virginia Marketplace for your Memorial Day get-togethers:

Carolina Syle Pork Barbecue

Blue Crab Bay Seafood Dips

James River Barbecue Sauce

A Peanut Shop Sampler of Virginia Peanuts

In-Shell Virginia Peanuts

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Virginia's Finest Products

Virginia made foods and beverages that have earned the Virginia's Finest trademark distinction of quality make tasteful and unique presents for personal and business occasions. Discover sauces, soups, baking mixes, fruit preserves, cakes and other gourmet foods and beverages all made in Virginia, plus classic favorites such as Virginia hams and Virginia peanuts. What is Virginia's Finest? The Virginia's Finest trademark signifies that agricultural and food products have met quality standards established by industries and approved by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Looking for Virginia gift baskets? The Virginia Marketplace has many to choose from filled with Virginia's Finest products. Some have received awards for gift packaging such as Blue Crab Bay's Nautical Gift Pack for their seafood soups. Some have been featured on Rachel Ray's Snack of the Day such as Feridies Salted Virginia Peanuts. Many Chincoteague Seafood Soups have been Awarded the American Taste Award of Excellence Certificate. We create our own unique gift baskets filled with Virginia products that make great gifts for clients, family members, friends or collegues!