It's the time of year that New Jersey residents eagerly anticipate. Fresh strawberries are now in season throughout the Garden State.

(Getty Images News)

Strawberry season is in full swing. It began in South Jersey two weeks ago and hit North Jersey on June 4, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

"Strawberries are the first fruit of the New Jersey growing season and signals many more Jersey Fresh produce items are on the way," Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said in a press release.

Fisher recently visited Donaldson Farms in Mansfield Township to help kick off the strawberry harvest.

"People coming for pick-your-own should look for berries that are ripe all the way to the tip. Keep them on the counter if your house is cool and plan on keeping them for only a day. Otherwise, put them in the fridge or cut the caps off and freeze," said the owner of Donaldson Farms. The farm typically sells from 130,000 to 190,000 pounds of strawberries each year.

What should you look for when picking/purchasing strawberries?

The Department of Arriculture approves the following suggestions for picking/purchasing strawberries:

  • Plump and firm;
  • Bright red color and natural shine;
  • The size of the berry is not important;
  • Color and fragrance are the best indicators of flavor;
  • The caps should be green and intact;
  • Stains on a carton indicate over-ripeness.

To find Jersey Fresh strawberries, pick-your-own farms and learn what type of produce is in season, go to www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.