Our garden is limited this year. Lettuce, kale, cilantro, tomatillos, tomatoes, plus whatever volunteers. Three years ago we planted a bed of strawberries, not really knowing what we were doing. This year it got one weeding, and then in early May it began to produce. Big time!
Maggie took charge of harvesting them so that they would be done carefully. Every three or four days she would be down in the garden early, picking a couple of hours at the peak and then working a couple more with Debbie to process them. Friday was her last trip to the field, coming back with just enough for one last dessert.
Plenty went into the freezer, but plenty more made it to the table fresh. We ate them with whipped cream, dipped in sour cream, dipped in chocolate, spun with frozen bananas into smoothies.
Or my favorite, baked in a pie. I had fond memories of eating strawberry pie as a youngster at Bob’s Big Boy, but the reality as a grownup (usually big flavorless barely-ripe strawberry chunks encased in flourescent red goo) was always disappointing. When we had abundant strawberries for the first time last year, Debbie found a simple but exquisite recipe that we’ve used many times since. The tricks are: for the goo, puree some of the strawberries with sugar and corn starch, then heat the result just until it thickens. And—very important!—take a baked pie shell and coat it with a layer of sweetened cream cheese, then add the filling and refrigerate.
Strawberries are pleasant way to get into eating seasonally, if you grow them yourself. For a month or so you’ll be awash in them, with plenty to eat fresh and plenty more to put up as preserves or to freeze. You’ll have strawberries all year for much less than what they cost in the store—a nice food to have freely available. And then in late spring you’ll be gorging yourself on fresh ones; so much better, but after a month of it you’re ready to put that particular joy on the shelf for another year.