Plump and delicious, strawberries have been pleasing palates for centuries. They’ve grown wild and domestically in both Europe, North and South America. Most of the strawberries we eat today are domestic varieties. Those of you who’ve tasted the wild ones understand that there is little that compares with the intense and concentrated flavours of untamed strawberries. The bad news is, they’re hard to come by. The good news is, domestic strawberries are tasty too in their own right.
You want strawberries to be as fresh as possible. After a couple days in storage, they lose their vitamin C. Of course, they’ll still offer fibre and other nutritional benefits. Store strawberries—unwashed—in the drawers of your refrigerator. If you wash them then stow away in the fridge, they’ll spoil quickly.
If you’re a purist, feel free to eat strawberries just as they are. I won’t tell you that you need to change your ways. For those who want to cook with strawberries, the simplest thing you can do with them is chop and marinate. Carefully toss the slices in a mixture like one of the ones suggested below then let sit for a little while until the juices start to develop:
- cinnamon and honey
- mint, lemon and sugar
- good quality balsamic, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper and Sambuca or ouzo
- wine, vodka OR gin with a sweetener of your choice
Plenty of people also turn strawberries into jams, jellies. They can star in a jam or jelly all on their own, but strawberries also work really nicely when combined with other fruits and berries. Think strawberry compote as well. Chop and simmer up the berries with a bit of sweetener. The strawberry slices will soften up and concentrate in flavour. Use the compote as a dessert on its own or with cake or ice cream. But no need to stop at dessert. Top white meats, fish or soft cheese like Brie with your homemade compote.
If you’re eager to try more with strawberries, turn them into ice cream or sorbets. Layer them in a healthy parfait. Freeze them and blend them into your smoothies. Feature them in classic crumbles, pies or cheesecakes. Think salsa as well; jalapenos pair up beautifully with strawberries.
Naturally, strawberries can be spotted at any local grocer in the summertime. At Choices, a lot of our berries are picked fresh in the morning by farmers and delivered to our stores by mid-afternoon. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! If you want to try your hand at picking, though, we generally have 2 opportunities in the valley. The first is in June and the second in early fall. Although the first pick of the season is delicious, the second round of strawberries will be slightly sweeter.
In June, Antonio is usually in a frenzy, trying to decide how to use the fresh local goods that are starting to trickle in from BC farms. Keep an eye out for his cooking classes that will start up again in September. He’s sure to have loads of new recipes to share with you after spending the summer cooking up BC’s bounty.