For many of us strawberry season is one of the most divine. We wait all year for the succulent and tantalizing berries of New Jersey, avoiding those flavorless, out of season, golf ball sized, flew way to far California berries, that are on our grocers shelves all winter long. We then gorge ourselves with the sweet juicy flavors that are impossible to achieve any other time of the year. This week we see the emergence of the first local strawberries into our farmers markets. They seem exceptionally ruby red this year and taste immensely sweeter than ever before, but then again it might just be the sweet taste of anticipation as well, as I tend to say the same thing each and every year.
Despite the fact that these little wonders can and do grow year round in parts of California, Florida and Mexico for our mass markets, out here on the east coast our prized New Jersey strawberry is in season from mid May until the miiddle to end of June, 3 weeks max. This year the strawberries have arrived early due to the warm, rainy and sunny spring. So take advantage of this short period of time when real small and sweet strawberries take over the markets. Choose ripe strawberries that are bright red, firm and with no white around the stem. They should be fragrant like strawberry perfume and should not contain any soft spots. The size is not as important as the scent and lack of soft spots. It’s always best not to store ripe berries too long so the first rule is to eat them within a day or two and store on the counter unrefrigerated. More than a day they need to go into the refrigerator, however more than two days strawberries begin to lose their sweet taste and fragrance. Wash only before eating. They can also be washed, dried, destemmed and frozen in a zip lock as well. Enjoy the season; take advantage of it while you can.
Here is a mix of my favorite simple strawberry recipes to enjoy during this peak of the season time, taking advantage of the short season of the strawberry and its sweet succulent flavor. As usual my recipes are all simple and yet still modern and unique. There are plenty of kid friendly recipes and even a few that will make the adults tipsy!