Ralph Sherman’s strawberries are done for the year. All his plants are June-bearing, they fruit once a year for two weeks or so. Ralph will tell you he likes June-bearing plants better than ever-bearing plants. Though the latter offer three harvests annually and the berries are just as tasty, the yields are smallish. Ralph prefers to concentrate his picking. It may just be that he got in the habit. In any event he’s done now, his freezer is stocked with 43 pints of hulled berries. As always, he made sure to get to them before the mice and chipmunks did. “Did you consider making jam?” we ask him; he laughs. He doesn’t like cooking. He never has. That was Ethel’s department.

All but the very young will remember buying Ethel’s jams and pickles from Ethel’s Kitchen, the stand she and Ralph manned at the West Tisbury farmer’s market for years and years. She made gallons and gallons to sell over 20 some years selling on Saturdays. The preserving, Ethel would make clear, was her third career (at least). She didn’t get into it until after she retired. But it worked out nicely. Ralph likes to grow but not to waste and once they got started at the market he could plant all he could manage then she’d put it up. In the end they made her many customers happy.

Bursts of red sweetness; strawberries are a bite of nature's candy. — Albert O. Fischer

Of course times change. Ralph, now 84, spends summer Saturdays at home. Ethel died in 2014 and he prefers to pass his weekend quietly. Life and age have slowed him down you might think, that is until you visit and take a look at his well-organized, perfectly cared for, absolutely beautiful garden, currently going full throttle. Drop by and he might even part with some beets or summer squash, the objects of his attention now he is done with strawberries.

Which brings us back to those red berries. They taste so much better when you grow them yourself or buy them from someone who does. Sadly, it’s now been over two weeks since the last of the June-bearing crop disappeared. But take heart, it won’t be long until the ever bearing varieties are ripe. We are planning already — to eat some out of hand, some on pretty plates with honey and herbs, some piled onto sweet biscuits, topped with whipped cream, and if we have any left, to make jam with the rest. Unlike Ethel, we’ll opt for the freezer variety because it is really easy: just cook berries, sweetened to taste, until they are falling apart, then store the jam in jars in the refrigerator or in the freezer in plastic containers.

Strawberry shortcake recipe.

Chris Fischer is chef at The Covington restaurant in Edgartown. His 2015 Beetlebung Farm Cookbook won a James Beard award for American cooking. Catherine Young collaborates with him on writing and recipes.

Video by David Henry Gerson; the third in a series of short videos about Beetlebung Farm.