A new season of bright, fragrant, ruby-red strawberries always holds my attention. I’m tempted to load up on as many as I can carry and head home with little else, except maybe some heavy cream, and hunker down for some serious enjoyment.
But strawberry season is a long one, lasting well through June in my region. I’ve found that branching out to incorporate berries in everyday meals and treats really pays off. Creative, unexpected uses for them is one of the highlights of spring eating!
Strawberry Tips & Tricks
- The freshest berries are glossy and firm and sport sprightly, leafy caps. Avoid berries that have white or green patches near the top, a sign that they were picked before peak ripeness.
- Refrigerate strawberries for up to 2 days. Remove any that are soft, mushy or moldy so that they don’t compromise the others. Rinse berries just before using and pat them very gently dry.
- Hull strawberries by using a paring knife to cut a small cone-shaped divot out around the green stem end. Watch the video above and see how easy it is.
- Strawberries freeze well, so consider buying extras when the price is right. Remove the hulls and arrange the berries in a single layer on a tray. Slip the tray into the freezer until the berries are very firm, 1 to 3 hours. Transfer them to freezer bags; they’ll keep for 6 to 8 months.
- Need to boost the flavor of tired or bland strawberries? Place sliced berries in a bowl, toss with a small amount of sugar and lemon juice, and let sit at room temperature 20 minutes.
You can brighten up just about any drink by dropping a couple of hulled halved strawberries into it: seltzer, iced tea, Prosecco. But you can also make the berries the star for sensational spring beverages. Irresistible wine-based Strawberry Rosé Punch is both refreshing and sophisticated. Strawberry-Lemon Soda is a wonderful nonalcoholic drink that looks fabulous in long, tall glasses. And yogurt-based Strawberry Lassi is a terrifically sweet, tangy drink that makes for a satisfying snack.
Put a big bowl of sliced berries on the breakfast table and they’ll quickly find their way on top of everything from cereal to yogurt to peanut butter toast. They’re also a favorite in smoothies; try this healthy vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Smoothie. For a leisurely morning you can’t beat Ricotta Strawberry Pancakes−they’re made with whole wheat flour as an added bonus. And for quick baking try these popular Strawberry Cream Scones; you can serve them alone or with clotted cream, or go overboard and make your own Easy Strawberry Jam.
Tossing a few berries into a green salad is always a winner, so don’t forget to do it a couple nights a week during strawberry season. You can also go for an all-out flavor bonanza with terrific recipes like Watermelon and Strawberry Salad with Chile Vinaigrette or Spring Salad with Strawberries and Creamy Orange-Avocado Dressing. And strawberries don’t need to be raw: Roasted Strawberry and Spinach Salad shows how heat can concentrate the fruit’s natural sweetness for wonderful effect. And finally, one of the tastiest, healthiest dressing to make is Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette: It’s fat-free, vegan and made without refined sweeteners.
Don’t hesitate to start incorporating strawberries into soups, sandwiches, sauces and more. Their ideal balance of sweet and tart flavors make them much more versatile than you might imagine. A terrific light starter to a meal is Strawberry Melon Gazpacho, a brilliant example of how strawberries can replace tomatoes with great results. They do the same in Baked Salmon with Spinach and Strawberry Salsa, a dish that might surprise you by how seamlessly the fruit blends with the flavors of jalapeño and mint. And more wonders: Strawberry and Goat Cheese Bruschetta shows off the berry’s natural affinity for mild cheeses, as does Cucumber Sandwiches with Strawberries and Watercress.
Whip some heavy cream with a little vanilla extract and powdered sugar to serve with strawberries and you have all you need for a fabulous dessert. But going a step further will really pay off. Traditional Strawberry Shortcake is the strawberry comfort treat most of us grew up with, and it’s still tops for serving on almost any occasion. A new classic for me is Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Cake, a cake that can do birthdays, showers, Mother’s or Father’s Day, and much more. For a sophisticated dessert you can go directly to Red Wine Strawberries and Cream, a wonderfully spiced dessert that combines star anise, orange and fromage blanc. And finally, if you see some particularly big, luscious, perfectly ripe berries around you’ll know it’s time gather some friends or family together to make Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries.
Got your own strawberry favorite? Tell us about it!