While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series. The following originally appeared on 6/19/09 at Exit 51.
The notion of eating fresh relies heavily on eating what’s in season. Those strawberries you see at the market in the dead of winter…not so much in season. But the ones I just picked at Baugher’s Farm? Most definitely so.
What do you think a strawberry is supposed to taste like? After eating so many of the mass produced, genetically enhanced, grocery store giants, I had forgotten the beauty of a fresh strawberry. Right from the plant, it is warm from the morning sun. The skin is vibrant; bright, and shining red and the flesh is firm but gently yielding. Bite into a mega farm berry and you get a little sweet, a lot of bland with the texture of cardboard. Bite into a just picked berry and it’s an explosion of freshness. Sweet and bright all at the same time and then the flesh just sort of melts away in your mouth.
And don’t let size fool you. Store berries tend to be big. But bigger is not always better. I picked a peck of berries and the little guys were just as flavorful as the big ones. Some, even more so. And unless you’re using them in a way that you’re going to see the berry whole, does it matter if that strawberry goodness came from David or Goliath?
Now is the time to embrace the berry goodness of eating fresh. It doesn’t matter whether you pick your own or get some fresh picked, local berries at a farm stand or market near you. But be warned, after eating a handful of these you may not be able to go back to the wannabes waiting for you at the grocery store.
One great way to use fresh strawberries is to make jam. Make this recipe and your peanut butter, yogurt, oatmeal, and toast will thank you. Want more jamtastic ideas? Check out Food in Jars.
Fresh Strawberry Jam
I got a little carried away picking and ended up with an entire peck of berries. This jam recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled. A triple batch will yield a nearly full one quart mason jar. The cooking time will be longer for a bigger batch but be patient…and at least let the jam cool before you go digging in with a spoon to enjoy the berry goodness. The original recipe says this will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.
4 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Combine strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 1 hour or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature and store in a plastic or glass container.