Ripe red right to the core, pick your own strawberries and enjoy the delicious, sweet flavour of Granite Belt strawberries.
Granite Belt strawberries are delicious!
The proof is in the tasting, say the farmers at Stanthorpe’s Ashbern Farms on the Granite Belt, who throw open their gates to visitors during strawberry season for a hands-on strawberry farm experience.
I had the best strawberry sundae I have ever tasted at the Ashbern Farms cafe. They have a secret trick of using locally produced Lira Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar on the strawberries in the sundae, and it amplifies the sweet strawberry flavours beautifully. I would drive from Brisbane to Stanthorpe, just to eat one of these. ( I would have to have a piece of Sutton’s apple pie as well.) The first of their season’s strawberries are hitting the market with what the farmers say is the ideal sweet taste. It is a great time to visit this region which is about two-hour drive from Brisbane. The pick-your-own strawberry season generally lasts from October to May.
When you bite into one of these strawberries after plucking it from the field yourself, not only will you know exactly where it came from, but you will also be rewarded with the true strawberry taste from which childhood dreams are made.
Photo above: Kerry Heaney enjoys an Ashbern Farms strawberry sundae. Photo: Christina Pfieffer, Travel2Next.
Cold nights and warm Granite Belt days
Brendon Hoyle says what surprises most people when they visit their strawberry farm is the taste of the freshly picked fruit. It is all thanks to the cold nights combined with sunny days, which enhances the natural sweetness of the berries. “Strawberries taste so much better at room temperature and even better when they have been in the sun. They taste very different when they are straight off the farm, and we often we see families where kids have said they don’t like strawberries but are converted when they have tried the fresh ones,” says Hoyle.
Here’s how they pick strawberries at Ashbern Farms at Stanthorpe.
Try a strawberry farm experience
With a young family themselves, the Hoyles know the joys of sharing the farm experience with kids. The Hoyles believe is important for kids to see the whole paddock to plate sequence. At the farm can see the growing process, from the tiny little strawberry forming inside the flower and the strawberries where the petals are falling away. Children love eating the ripe red fruit they pick.
Take the Ashbern Farms challenge to hunt the strawberry patches for the largest strawberry and possibly enter the Hall of Fame for the Ashbern Super Size Strawberries! The largest strawberry found on the farm so far weighed a whopping 50 grams. Part of the farm visit is often a treat at the farm café, where strawberry ice cream, made on the premises, tops waffles for the most favourite dish.
If you love this farm to plate experience, stop for the best apple pie, you’ll ever taste at Sutton’s Apple Farm.
Visit the Granite Belt
With mild temperatures ranging from 7.8C to 22.3 C, the Granite Belt is a beautiful destination in spring, ideal for on-farm produce picking, visiting wine groves bursting with new foliage and exploring the spectacular granite outcrops across Girraween and Bald Rock National Parks.
Here is my list of where to eat on the Granite Belt and the ultimate Granite Belt food lover’s guide.
Strawberry picking for the public and Granite Belt strawberry sales are available at Ashbern Farms from Friday to Sunday, 8 am to 3 pm until late May. Admission is free, making it an affordable day out for the family. Punnets are available in the farm shop – just pick your own strawberries, weigh, pay and eat. Ashbern Farms is located just off the New England Highway at 2 West Road, Stanthorpe, about two hours from Brisbane, Toowoomba and two and a half hours from the Gold Coast.
You can also pick strawberries on the Granite Belt once a month during strawberry season at Eastern Colour Farm in Applethorpe. Check their website for the next pick your own event.
Use the strawberries that you pick to make these delicious recipes
Keep up with what is happening on the Granite Belt here.