It's getting that time of year when home-grown strawberries are back in town. Many of you have your own strawberry patch. I know when I had one the whole family anxiously waited for those luscious berries to ripen. Now I buy them in the store, or go to a pick-um place. This year we went to Heartland Farms and bought a basket, or a lug. They were very good, but I did have to wait a few days for some of them to ripen. When we went to the farm I had to reassure the husband we weren't going to pick them. He did that once with me and he vowed never again. No matter where you get your berries considering the way kids and just about everyone likes fresh strawberries, you'll be lucky if a great deal of the strawberries ever make it to the kitchen.
Did you know the strawberry plant belongs to the rose family? Early travelers in this country found the plant growing wild and took it back to England where it was developed by hybridization. In time some of the resulting varieties were returned to the Mid-west. There are now about 30 varieties suitable for growing in the United States. No matter where you live there is a strawberry variety that will be suitable for your climate.
In these days of many diets, most of us have forgotten how highly nutritious strawberries are, but still low in calories. I like to eat strawberries fresh and there are so many tips about strawberries that I'd like to share the "berry" best with you:
* Garnish each piece of strawberry pie with a dollop of whipped cream, a mint leaf and one perfect strawberry.
* Dip fresh strawberries into sour cream or yogurt and roll in strawberry-flavored gelatin for a tasty treat.
* A strawberry cake baked in an 8-inch heart-shaped pan can be decorated afterwards to resemble a giant strawberry.
* Strawberries stored with stems stay firm longer than those without.
* Strawberries will form their own natural juice, if you slice them, sprinkle with confectioner sugar and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
* Refrigerate fresh strawberries in shallow containers as soon as you pick them and rinse them in cold water only when you are ready to use them. Do not allow berries to soak.
* Freeze strawberries on a cookie sheet until firm; transfer to heavy plastic bags.
Most of these tips improve the taste of strawberries by not letting them get soft and keeping them at their freshest.
Here are two recipes that I used this last weekend.
STRAWBERRY SAUCE FOR ICE CREAM
3 cups of fresh
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and puree. Transfer to a jar. Try adding this sauce to tea, seven-up or lemonade-also good in margarita.
STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM
2 cups crushed fresh
4 cups sugar
1 package of dry pectin
3/4 cup water
Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium - high heat, and a boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers. Place tops on jars or containers and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer until ready to use.
"Happiness is like jam-You can't spread even a little, without getting some on yourself."