It never seems like summer has officially arrived until strawberry season hits. Suddenly u-pick fruit stands pop up everywhere. In Oregon, we would either harvest our own garden or go to Detering Orchards anytime we needed bushels of berries, sweet cherries, or assorted fruit to make jam, bake pastries, or to dehydrate for the winter. After moving to Europe, we were at a loss as to where we could go for u-pick strawberries in Switzerland. At least, that is, until a Swiss friend in Trav’s lab suggested a place she always would go with her grandma as a child – Lüdi’s U-Pick Strawberryland. Located near the town of Düdingen in Fribourg canton just a few km northeast of us, we never would have known about it if it weren’t for her recommendation. As is so often the case, it takes a local to know the best places to go!
On a sweltering hot summer evening, a group of us carpooled out to the strawberry patch – Lüdi’s Erdbeerland.
Erdbeer is German for strawberry, so it’s Luedi’s Strawberryland.
As we were driving in, we could see row upon row of strawberry plants covered with a fine black mesh, not yet ripe. Once inside the front gate, workers had removed the mesh from rows that were ripe and available for picking.
We parked our car in the lengthy strip of grass next to the entrance and checked in with the folks working in the little booth. Since we were armed with nothing but small containers and bags, we were grateful when they offered us over-sized hardy cardboard baskets with handles.
Confirming that the cost was 5 chf per kilo and that they didn’t charge for whatever we took with us in our bellies, we spread out down the neat rows of shimmering strawberries like a chain gang showing up for work.
We set to work picking, chatting, and eating.
But mostly eating.
After an hour or two, every basket for our entire group was full.
An employee weighed out all of our baskets, and I was amazed to see that Travis and I alone had picked 5 kilos (11 lbs). For 25 chf, that same amount would have been considerably more expensive from Coop or Migros, plus fresh picked strawberries are always more flavorful, fresh and so yummy warmed by the sun.
After washing up our haul when we got home, we shared some with friends, ate some fresh, and froze the rest for use throughout the summer. Considering that a single strawberry pie takes 6 cups of berries, these won’t last long!
If you want the best recipe in the world for strawberry-rhubarb bars, hit me up!
Update: Sadly for the public, Walter Luedi (the owner of Luedi's Strawberryland) retired in 2018 after 40 years as a strawberry farmer in this small community. He has made arrangements for two neighbors and local farmers to take over strawberry production. Those in Fribourg canton looking for u-pick strawberries should look for Werro's Biohof or Annemarie and Martin Krebs with Selfpick Schiffenen.