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Strawberries In A Bottle
What to do with excess berries is a problem for any berry grower. Cottle Farms just bottles them. The East Coast firm has U-pick and fresh market strawberry farms, as well as farm market stands in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. So far this year they've sold more than 10,000 bottles of strawberry cider at nine locations in addition to mail order.
"We started with the cider at the end of the 2006 strawberry season and expect it to be a season-by-season thing," says Jerry Buczek, chief operating officer, Cottle Strawberry Nursery and Farms. "We are having an exceptional production season this year, but last year there was less fruit due to frost."
FARM SHOW sampled the cider at the Organic Food Show in Chicago this past April. The 100 percent strawberry juice sweetened with sugar and some added flavor really was like biting into a fresh ripe strawberry. Buczek says the response to the beverage has been enthusiastic.
"We have people who tasted it somewhere calling up and ordering cases at a time," he says.
While the product has proven a great way add value to the company's product, Buczek warns that making strawberry cider is not for everyone. He notes that their average U-pick unit runs from four to five acres, while most U-pick operations are one to two acres in size. Buczek should know. The firm also supplies strawberry starters to retail nurseries and U-pick operations from Maryland to Ohio and south to Arkansas and Texas.
"You have to have volume to take to a bottler," he says. "It takes about a pound and a half of strawberries for every 32-oz. bottle."
Cottle Farms Strawberry Cider can be ordered by the case of 12 bottles for $36 plus shipping.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Cottle Strawberry Nursery & Farms, Inc., 2488 West NC 403 Hwy., Faison, N.C. 28341 (ph 910 267-4531; fax 910 267-0156; www.cottlefarms.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1