Freelancer, loves finding new places, especially watering holes. Follow me on Twitter @PaddyKoan
Published June 7th 2012
Strawberries are little morsels of sweetness that go perfect with chocolate, ice cream or cream. Or even a combination of the three. And what greater joy than to pick your own strawberries and incorporate them in tonight's dessert? If you love strawberries and think the idea of picking your own sounds great, you're in luck. But you won't need to grow your own - this is where Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm comes in.
Located in Main Ridge, approximately 15mins out of Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsular, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm offers a day of fun and fruit for the whole family. Between November and April, the peak strawberry season, Sunny Ridge is open from 9am until 5pm daily. The rest of the year, Sunny Ridge is open from 11am until 4pm on weekends, although as of June 2012, they will remain open daily as they provide strawberries from their newly acquired strawberry farm on the Sunshine Coast, QLD.
On entering Sunny Ridge, you will be presented with a dilemma; do you make for the Strawberry Dessert Café? Or grab a punnet and head for the farm? My recommendation is to grab a punnet, pick your own with U-Pick, and then head back in for some well-deserved sweets. With U-Pick, you purchase a punnet, are directed to a dedicated public picking area (to pick strawberries, not your noses) and you pick to your heart's content (again, the strawberries, not your nose). Punnets come in two sizes, with 500g punnets $8 for adults and 250g punnets $4 for children. This is by far the most fun you can have with your clothes on in a field.
The thrill of the chase, although your prey is rather stationary, is great fun. Couples, families or groups will have a blast searching for the perfect strawberries and trying to pick the biggest ones before anyone else. And there are some large strawberries to be picked. An adult punnet gives you ample room to fit in many strawberries, but you might be tempted to pile in as many as you can. This though can be a disadvantage. You must be able to close the lid on your punnet once you've finished picking, if you can't, your punnet will be weighed and if you're over 500g you'll have to pay for the excess. Also, trying to fit too many strawberries into a punnet can cause the poor strawberries on the bottom to bruise, making them less than ideal for those strawberries dipped in chocolate you were thinking of making later.
Some Pro Tips: Go early in the morning, this way you beat the rush and the heat, and pick the best strawberries on offer. Look under foliage, a lot of juicy strawberries are hiding under the leaves, so don't just glance over the top. Only pick strawberries that are ripe. These ones are bright red in colour all over. Once picked, strawberries won't ripen any further, so there is no use picking a big one when it's still white.
Be sure to wash your freshly picked bounty before eating
Once you've had your fill of picking strawberries, go back inside and have some morning tea at the Strawberry Dessert Café. A large selection of strawberry based and other sweet tooth based treats are on offer, including their speciality, the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Temptation: A parfait glass filled with Sunny Ridge strawberries and Sunny Ridge made Strawberry Ice Cream and Sorbet covered in whipped cream and drowning in strawberry syrup. This decadent dessert will set you back $12.50, with other items on the menu ranging from $6 to $15.
The strawberry explosion doesn't stop there. The owners of the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm also make an array of syrups, sauces and jams for you to sample and purchase. A Jar of Strawberry jam featuring Sunny Ridge's own strawberries costs $8.00, syrups such as passionfruit, chocolate or, of course, strawberry are around the same price.
If these don't take your fancy, maybe something a little harder will. They also make their own wines, spirits and ciders. With a large variety of each on hand, you're sure to find a sparkling strawberry wine or a nice cider to cool you down on a hot day. Prices vary depending upon the product. You can pick up a four pack of their new Summerberry Cider, which is brewed by combining Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry wines with Pear cider. This retails for $20 and a single bottle costs $5.20.
All in all, a day at the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm will provide you with a sumptuous strawberry experience, that you'll want to overindulge in again and again.