In pursuit of flavor: Shuksan Strawberries

With a brief blink-and- you-miss-them growing season and a composition so fragile, berries picked that day include instructions: “use them before sundown,” by all conventional standards, Shuksans are the prima donna of the strawberry world.  

Accustomed to flavorless Californian strawberries, my first reaction to Shuksans left me wondering, “What’s wrong with these berries?”  

Flavor guru, Jon Rowley, was quick to set me straight. “The question is, ‘What’s right with these berries?’ “

Boasting a pure ‘strawberry’ aroma and a heady, full-bodied flavor, that first bite of a Shuksan strawberry redefined what a strawberry was meant to be. 

Shuksan strawberry’s buxom, shiny exterior gives way to a luscious flesh that’s deep red to the core. Their natural sugar content is so high, overnight, they practically macerate in their own juices--hence the advice to “use them by sundown”.

Because of their fragile nature, Shuksans were a long-time secret known only to gardeners and commercial accounts. (Häagen-Daz claims most of the commercially-available harvest.) 

In recent years, word has spread quickly among chefs and writers, and a seasonal fever pitch on par with the California gold rush has driven up demand. While they may be in short supply, diligent Shuksan-lovers know: they are worth the hunt. 

Get yours:

When are Shuksan strawberries in season? 
In the Pacific Northwest, Shuksans have a brief 3-week harvest cycle and weather-pending, typically bear fruit in June.

Where do you find Shuksan strawberries in Seattle? 

1. Some farmers markets

2. Skagit Sun farm stand (Flooring America parking lot: 3605 NE 45th Street, 11 am - 6 pm, daily)

3. Thulen Farm u-pick: join Jon Rowley, dubbed by Saveur magazine as “America’s disciple of flavor,” for the Ultimate Northwest Strawberry Experience 

4. Or better yet, grow your own.