Have you ever bought a package of strawberries at the grocery store, only to discover that the ones hidden down there on the bottom are underripe or overripe? I figured out a way to solve that problem.
I buy local.
Strawberries — fresh-picked, vine-ripened strawberries — are showing up now at local farmers’ markets and pick-your-own strawberry farms.
My daughter and I recently went picking at C. Watts Farm in Munford, and in a half-hour we had picked two gallons of red, ripe berries. Not a flavorless one or a mushy one in the bunch.
Back home in the kitchen, I was pressed for time (or maybe I was just feeling lazy). I simply hulled most of the berries and popped them, whole, into freezer bags and froze them. The rest of the berries went into the fridge, where they were consumed in a matter of days.
If I’d wanted to keep them longer, I would have tried giving them a vinegar bath to kill any mold spores. In a bowl, mix 3 cups of water with 1 cup white vinegar. Wash berries, then drain and rinse. Place berries in a salad spinner lined with paper towels and spin until dry.)
The fresh berries have gone into salads, or been served as dessert with a simple dip.
The frozen berries have gone into breakfast smoothies and eventually, some of them might get sliced up to cook into pancakes or muffins — if I’m ever feeling less lazy.
My go-to smoothie is ½ cup of frozen strawberries and ½ cup of Wright Dairy buttermilk, mixed in a blender until smooth. (If that’s too tart for your taste, add a drizzle of maple syrup.) The following recipe is a little more work.
½ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
½ to 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
⅓ cup orange juice
⅓ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
2-3 ice cubes if not using frozen fruit
Add ingredients to blender and mix until smooth.
STRAWBERRIES WITH SOUR CREAM AND BROWN SUGAR
A lazy person might just spread a little Nutella on a strawberry and call it a day, but with only a little more work you can dip fresh berries in this creamy deliciousness. Use whole strawberries and leave the tops on for easier dipping. Set out a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of sour cream and a bowl of brown sugar. Dip a strawberry in the sour cream, then in the brown sugar, and eat. The tart and sweet tastes meld in a surprising and wonderful way.
Hull and slice a pint of strawberries and put them in a large salad bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and several grinds of black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add a bunch of arugula, some crumbled goat cheese and a sprinkle of salt; drizzle with olive oil, toss and serve.
— “Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express”
Trim, wash and dry spinach, arrange in serving dishes. Trim and wash strawberries, slice. For dressing, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; 1 tablespoon honey; salt and pepper. Grate gouda cheese and sprinkle over spinach. Place strawberry slices on top and drizzle with dressing just before serving. (You only need a little bit of this flavorful dressing!).
— Moore Farms and Friends, Wedowee
STRAWBERRY-GOAT CHEESE LETTUCE WRAPS
Wash and drain lettuce leaves (butterhead or round leaves work best).
Wash and trim stems off of strawberries: cut in half if they are large or use whole for smaller berries.
Place a little scoop of goat cheese in the middle of a lettuce leaf, add a strawberry and wrap up into a little bundle.
Pop into your mouth and enjoy!
— Moore Farms and Friends, Wedowee
1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
A few drops of fresh lemon or lime juice
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree. Will keep for a week or longer in tightly covered container in fridge. Serve over ice cream, or use the sauce to make strawberry sorbet; simply put the sauce in an ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine.
This recipe works for other berries as well.
— “Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen
PICK YOUR OWN STRAWBERRIES
• C. Watts Farm, 351 Oak Grove, Munford, 256-493-0916. Expects to have strawberries through the end of May. Open most days, call or check the farm’s Facebook page for hours. New this year is a sluice where kids can pan for gemstones.
• Norris Farm, 1261 Alfords Bend Road, Hokes Bluff (outside Gadsden), 256-492-1108. You-pick or they-pick strawberries. Call for hours and directions.