My kitchen right now is overflowing with containers of strawberries. I thought we had an amazing strawberry crop last year but I am blown away by the quantity, size and taste of the berries coming out of my patch! The quality of the fruit this season is by far the best I've grown. I'm picking at least one bowl full each morning and we're happily making the most of strawberry season while it lasts. Here are some of the ways we are enjoying our berry abundance.
When I have accumulated a big bowl of berries, I separate them into three smaller bowls. The perfect berries will be eaten fresh, the almost perfect berries will be frozen and the still edible but not in great shape berries will be pureed.
We're using the fresh berries at breakfast on cereal and in baked strawberry and rhubarb granola ( a variation of this recipe). My husband is eating them sliced on his bagel. At lunch and supper, we have been putting them on our salads. This week we had mixed greens salad with scallions, feta cheese and strawberries, topped with almonds and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette...Yum!
To freeze strawberries, I brush them clean with a cloth (water turns berries to mush in a heartbeat), hull them, then place them in a single layer on a baking pan and put them in the freezer. When they are completely frozen I put them in a freezer bag. This method prevents them from sticking together and the berries hold their shape better.
To puree the 'ugly' berries, hull and put them in a blender along with a tablespoon of sugar. The puree can be frozen at this point. This week I used it to make strawberry ice cream. I added a cup to a traditional cream base about three minutes before the ice cream was done in the machine. It produced a nice ripple effect and was really delicious. I've used the puree in muffins and as a topping for pancakes. Pureeing is a great way to utilize the berries that don't look appealing fresh but are still nutritious and tasty!
Another use for the less than perfect fruit is jam. I made so much jam last year I don't need to make any more but I do have some jelly recipes I'm eager to try later in the summer. We've only got a couple of weeks left of strawberry season. I'll get a smaller crop in a couple of months but nothing like the fat juicy berries we are enjoying now. I intend to make the most of it!
How are you enjoying your berries?
See you in the berry patch,