If you have spent some time with the seasonal fruits chart from Shari’s Berries, you have probably noticed that, according to the chart, most fruits are in season most of the time, somewhere. It’s that SOMEWHERE that is the important point. Let me explain.
I commented on the chart’s inclusion of strawberries as an early spring fruit, by whining about how NOT in season strawberries are in New England right now. But, on my trip to the grocery store, there they were, in all their plump, red glory, strawberries. When I checked the label, it proudly proclaimed they were California strawberries. Of course they are. Here’s where you make your choice.
Now, since we are discussing strawberries, I will happily brag on and on that New Hampshire strawberries are some of the best strawberries I have ever eaten. This was made undeniably clear to me on a long-ago visit with family in California, where California-grown strawberries were offered as part of a large spread of snacks. I greedily put one in my mouth, and was somewhat let down by its pale flavor, in comparison to the heavenly rubies I had eaten at home the week before. I had assumed it was their fresh-picked status that made them so scrummy, but surely the Cali berries were just as fresh as those at home. The soil, water, and climate all must have something to do with it.
Strawberries are grown many places, and shipped many places. The key is to buy them only when they have been grown and shipped from a distance you can live with. I chose to leave the California berries at the grocery store. As badly as I could use a fresh strawberry right damn now, I know those berries will not be the fix I need. They came from too far away, and their flavor is not up to my expectations. However, somewhere down the line between now and the middle of June, when our berry fields will open their Pick-Ur-Own stands, Florida strawberries will be in the grocery store. They are a fair substitute for our local berries, still not as flavorful, but grown a significant distance closer to home. If I simply cannot wait a moment longer, I may buy a quart.
If strawberries are in season where you are right now, and you have the opportunity to hoard them, I suggest you do so. They are usually cheaper when they are in season (and therefore plentiful), and they are quite easy to freeze for future use. Of course, you should also eat as many fresh as your stomach can hold at any given moment, because there is nothing like a fresh strawberry in season. But there is also nothing like a strawberry dessert in the middle of winter to brighten your spirits, and your palate.
I went a couple of different directions with my frozen strawberries. I made a quick jam with some of them, and then chopped up some slightly thawed berries to fold into your classic red gelatin-whipped topping-mousse-like creation that every child of the 70’s and 80’s has eaten. The jam and some of the mousse went into a graham cracker crust, and into the fridge. The remaining gelatin and mousse went into martini glasses for a lighter treat.
For directions on freezing strawberries, click here. You really do want to make the time to do this if your own strawberry season is desperately short, as ours is here. Even though you might be able to GET strawberries nine months out of the year, that doesn’t mean you WANT the strawberries you can get.