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Decoding Spring Produce: Strawberries - Strawberry Believer

Decoding Spring Produce: Strawberries - Strawberry Believer

updated

With the warm weather with us, the produce selection gets better and better. In previous and upcoming articles about produce of the spring and summer, we’re taking a look at stinging nettles, asparagus, artichokes, and grapes. This time around, we’ll be looking at another great fruit we all know and love: the strawberry.

Strawberries

While strawberries are a chocolate-dipped staple of Valentine's Day desserts, the fact is they aren't really in season until late May. Strawberries are high in potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and even have more vitamin C than some citrus fruits.

To pick good strawberries, you'll want to look for dryness, firmness, and a deep red color. The tops of the strawberries should look fresh, not wilted or overly wet. Any staining on the pint or box is an indication of overripeness and rough handling. Storage is simple: leave the strawberries in the pint. Any unnecessary movement can bruise the strawberries. Wash your berries in cold water before eating or before cooking.

Strawberry Shortcake

Dessert
Serves four

  • 1 1/2 pints strawberries; cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
  • 1 Tbl sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Angel food cake, sliced (can use any white cake)
  • Whipped cream

1. Place the strawberries in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the top.

2. If using a vanilla bean, split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrap out the pulp with the dull side of your blade. Place the bean and the pulp into the bowl. If using vanilla extract, do not add the vanilla extract to the bowl at this time.

3. Let strawberries, vanilla bean, and sugar sit together for one hour at room temperature, tossing every 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Add orange juice and vanilla extract (if using extract) and toss to combine.

5. Spoon the fruit and juices over the sliced cake and garnish with whipped cream.

Strawberry Salad

Salad or Appetizer
Serves four

  • 1/2 pint strawberries; cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
  • 1 bulb fennel, small to medium; shaved or julienne
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted; crushed or slivered
  • 1/4 lbs dandelion greens, chopped (can substitute arugula)
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested*
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested*
  • 1/2 Tbl honey

* NOTE: If you do not have a zester you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of the fruit and then finely chop afterwards.

1. In a large bowl, combine the juice and zest of the lemon and orange with the honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Toss the dandelion greens (or arugula) and fennel in the dressing to evenly coat.

3. Mix in strawberries and almonds.

The fruit in spring are the sweet, juicy, colorful treats of our childhood. We've grown up seeing these warm weather fruits and are familiar with their hue and texture. Next time we look at one fruit that harkens the coming of summer.

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