Make the Most of Nature’s Candy.
To my mind, great cooking is about honesty, authenticity and sourcing the best ingredients. Very few of us will ever pull a 30-pound striped bass out of the surf and throw it on a roaring fire. Fewer still will spend hours in the hills of Alba, rooting out October’s first truffle. But most of us can grow strawberries, drive a short distance to pick them or buy a pint from a farm stand or market. Nothing is more sublime than a just-picked, perfectly ripe summer strawberry.
Strawberries can be grilled, roasted, marinated, macerated, pureed, ‘salsa-fied’, baked in a pie, put up in a jam, frozen in an ice cream. One of my favorites is dipping them in a mixture of sour cream and brown sugar for the world’s easiest dessert.
Use & Storage
• Pick firm, plump, red berries, with full green leaves and caps intact with no browning of the stem area.
• Remember that cold deadens the flavors and texture of most soft fruits. Leave the berries at room temperature for as long as is feasible without courting spoilage. Wash only right before using.
• IF you must refrigerate, store for 2-3 days on a paper towel in a moisture-proof container.
• Don’t freeze whole berries, they disintegrate when thawed.
• Like vegetables, fruits get softer and juicier when cooked, but there are problems with that as well. To hold color in cooked berries, be sure to add foods rich in acid like rhubarb to hold the pigments of the berries.