What to Do with Strawberries This Season

Strawberry pickingWEB_FINAL

When Treworgy Family Orchard in Levant posted on Facebook Saturday afternoon that they had a great opening day for strawberry season (they’ll be reopening for picking this weekend), I couldn’t help but get a little excited. Strawberries have been my very favorite fruit since childhood — the one I most look forward to, and relish eating. They also come with a bevy of happy memories — both from childhood and adulthood.

And though my kids and I haven’t picked strawberries these last few years, this summer we won’t miss it. I want my kids to have the happy memories of time spend plucking berries from bushes, stealing a few to munch on and taking them home to enjoy in so many ways.

Strawberry picking is a tradition that I’ve carried forward from my own childhood. As a little kid, I would inevitably be wearing all white when we’d arrive at the field nearby our Dutchess County, New York, home. We’d weave through the rows, past green leaved plants teaming with berries, in search of the plumpest, sweetest ones. By the time we left, with baskets of fresh, sweet, brilliant red berries, I’d be stained pink from my head to my little (formerly white) Keds. It was messy and sticky and hot and so much fun.

My kids have been berry picking since they were old enough to crawl. When they were really little, learning from my own experiences as a child, I’d practically color-code them to the berries we were picking: Red clothes for strawberry season, blue for blueberry season. It wasn’t intentional — at least not at first — but it helped stem the mess. So did the baby wipes I always made sure to pack for the trip to the fields.

When we pick, we aim to pick a lot. Strawberry season is so short, so you have to take advantage while you can. Some berries will be plucked from the box and popped into our mouths — a sweet snack. Others will be turned into jams and cooked into baked goods. And some will be frozen for winter. There’s nothing better than adding that taste of summer to whatever you can on the coldest days of the year. It’s hope in a bite.

Are you planning to go strawberry picking this season? Here are some ideas what to do with your haul.

Freeze them: Storing fresh strawberries lets you enjoy them all year long. To do so, wash and hull the strawberries. Place in a flat layer on a baking sheet or in a freezer safe container and freeze. Then transfer the frozen berries to a freezer container or bag for storage.

Turn them into sauce: Strawberry sauce is delicious on waffles, pancakes, ice cream and more. Use this easy method to make a two-cup batch to enjoy now or save for later. Combine 2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a bowl (the berries will release their juices as they heat). Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to storage containers and freeze until ready to use. Defrost before using.

Slice them in salads: If you aren’t eating summer berries in your salads, it’s time to start. From the classic spinach salad (with sliced strawberries, candied almonds and a balsamic dressing) to more inventive grain salads, tossed salads and more, strawberries pair well with leafy greens, grains, tangy vinaigrettes and sharp cheeses.

Toss them on ice cream: Fresh berries on ice cream? Yes, please! (They’re also good on yogurt and in cereal too!)

Strawberry recipes to try this strawberry season

Small Batch Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Small Batch Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Banana Green Smoothies Recipe

Strawberry-Banana Green Smoothies

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes RecipeMini Strawberry Cheesecakes

 

Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News, and resident cook. She writes a cooking column, Maine Course, and is also author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains." Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, Glamour.com and more.