Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strawberries Are Here!

Strawberry season is here.
It’s time to pick.
It’s time to buy.
It’s time to eat them!
During this prime strawberry season, my family pretty much eats strawberries at every meal!

the gift on my porch

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from my sister letting me know that there were freshly picked berries on my porch- to look for them!  What a fun and welcomed surprise!  She and her kids had gone picking at a nearby berry patch and brought us some to enjoy. YUM!  

lucy & the basket of berries in the patch
We, too, went on a strawberry picking adventure last year, and are going to try to get picking in the next several days.  Have you ever been picking?  It is so fun.  Our family loves picking all kinds of produce:  blueberries, apples, strawberries and peaches (my favorite to pick).  Check your chamber of commerce to find a list of local farms that are open to public pickers and what dates each product is available.  We have learned, that at times, the fruit can be as pricey, if not more, than at our grocery, so beware.  The benefits are the experience, the freshness, and supporting local farmers.  

Strawberries have shown up a lot lately on our table. Here are a few examples :

Breakfast- yogurt/granola/berry parfaits and waffles with berries and whipped cream
Lunch- PBJ & S  or PBPB & S (peanut butter, peanut, banana, & strawberry) sandwiches- or wraps!

and Dinner- strawberry green salad or fruit salad, 

and of course, dessert with berries: We had Poundcake with berries and whipped cream on Saturday and Strawberry shortcake- the classic strawberry dessert, on Monday.  
There are many variations on "strawberry shortcake", from angel food cake with berries and whip, to poundcake, to the spongy cake sold in the grocery.  But the "original" is made with a sweet biscuit, not unlike a scone, with berries and whipped cream sandwiched between or poured on top.

Strawberry shortcake parties became popular in the United States around 1850, as a celebration of the coming of summer.  I love this!  I think I might start having an annual strawberry shortcake party.  

According to, shortcake gets its name from the use of shortening or butter in the dough. The name "shortening" for butter or lard comes from the term "to shorten"- a 15th century term which meant "easily crumbled", probably because its fibers were short, unlike bread.

Strawberry Shortcake:
The Biscuit (adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)- I used 1 cup regular, 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat 
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a food processor, combine flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt; process until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add milk; pulse just until moistened- 4 or 5 times. Do not over-process.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, gently pat dough into a 4 X 8 inch rectangle.  Dust a large knife with flour; cut dough into 8 squares.  Transfer to a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake until golden, 20-30 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven). Cool on baking sheet.  

patting out the dough

slicing the dough
golden brown
The whipped cream:
I have loved fresh whipped cream for as long as I can remember, but I will never forget the first time I saw the miracle of a pint of cream becoming a bowl of fluffy, sweet whipped cream.  I went to my friend, Hannah's house when I was in graduate school and she made key lime pie for dessert.  She said she was going to whip some cream to put on it.  She attached a wire whisk attachment to her Kitchen Aid mixer, poured whipping cream in and let it go full speed, and I beheld the glory of the whipping of the cream.  She poured a few drops of vanilla in and a hefty spoonful of sugar and voila! I've never been the same since.

whipping the cream
The berries:
It is best to prepare (wash, hull, slice) the berries,  and add some sugar so that they are sweetened, and let them sit for a while before serving.  The juices and the sugar also create a nice sauce.  You can add a couple of splashes of orange juice too if you'd like.
Assembling the Shortcake:
Split the biscuits in half with a serrated knife.  Layer with berries and whipped cream.  Gobble it up!

Some tips for the berry season:
Berry Care:
You will really benefit from sorting through the berries when you get home from the store.  One or two rotten berries can spoil the entire carton if they are left un-tended (I have learned this the hard way). If you find rotten spots, cut those parts off and salvage the rest.  Use them first!  If you find berries that are "too ripe" put them in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer for making smoothies.

Now whether or not you should refrigerate the berries is debatable. “They” say you shouldn’t refrigerate, as it will change the berries- shrivel them and make them soggy.  However, it can extend the life of the berries as well.  What are your thoughts on this one?

Stain treatment:
When eating lots of berries you might need some tips for how to treat berry stains in clothing, especially if you are as messy as some of the people in my house are. It is high risk for berry stains over here.  

My mom, the stain queen, as we lovingly call her, has found a great remedy for these highly acidic, strongly colored stains.  Distilled white vinegar and liquid dish soap.  Pour some of each on top of the stain and rub into the stain BEFORE washing the garment.  Leave it soaking in the vinegar and soap for a little while.  Rinse and see how effective it was.  You may have to give it two rounds, but if you see that the stain is changing in color or reducing in size that is a good sign that it is reacting and you should continue with the treatment.

Enjoy the bounty and beauty of this season of strawberries!  Let them inspire you in the kitchen this month!


  1. Strawberries are my absolute favorite. I've never thought of a PBPB & S wrap...looks yummy! I would definitely come to your annual strawberry shortcake party! And thanks for the tips on berry care : )

  2. Julie, do you recommend any picking farms in particular? I was trying to research this and it seems like there are a lot of options out here for different types of fruit.

    I refrigerate my strawberries but if I'm not going to eat them all the same day, then I go ahead and slice them up. It's much easier to add a spoonful or two to yogurt, salad, or whatever else I'm craving. And that eliminates the threat of spoiled berries!