Excerpt from The LA Times, July 14, 2010
Alpine strawberries, also called “wild” strawberries or fraises des bois, are a different species (Fragaria vesca), much smaller, softer and more aromatic than most varieties of the common garden strawberry (F. ananassa). A romantic allure accompanies them, but they’re only at their best when fully developed and ripe; underripe fruits are sour, overripe ones are mushy, and tiny, scrawny specimens covered with seeds are bitter.
Their shelf life is the blink of an eye, and they’re insanely laborious to pick, so just a few growers raise them, notably Pudwill Berry Farms of Nipomo and Jaime Farms of City of Industry, which mainly sell these fragile berries at Santa Monica Wednesday. Pudwill recently cut back their plants and won’t have wild strawberries for another month or so; Jaime will have them through June or July, but in small quantities, which tend to be scooped up by purveyors for restaurants, so one must stop by as the market opens or reserve in advance.