We are almost at the end of strawberry season here in upstate New York.
When I was growing up in rural New England, we always went strawberrying every spring and made lots of recipes with the fresh, flavorful berries. Back then, you only had access to fresh strawberries when they were available locally. Now you can buy them in the grocery store year-round grown somewhere far away, but we seldom buy them because they are never as good as local ones.
For many years, I picked my own from nearby farms, but now I buy them from the farmstands and embark on the annual strawberry binge.
This year, we had some of our old favorites – strawberry shortcake, fresh strawberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry salad, strawberry sundaes, strawberries with yogurt, and strawberries on pancakes. We also tried some new recipes – strawberry spoon cake, strawberry-rhubarb muffins, fresh strawberry tarts, and strawberry bread pudding.
Wow! That looks like a lot when it is all written out.
I think it will tide us over until next spring, when I’m sure we’ll be ready to dive into strawberry season once again.
The Algonquins who were native to my region named the full moon this time of year the strawberry moon.
Usually at this time of year, we are enjoying plentiful local strawberries. For many years, I would go to a local farm to pick quarts and quarts of berries. We would share some with family and then I would put the kitchen in full-blown strawberry mode. Strawberries on cereal or with yogurt for breakfast. Strawberries on fresh leaf lettuce or baby spinach with pecans and goat cheese. Strawberry shortcake. Fresh strawberry pie. Strawberry rhubarb soup. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberry-rhubarb pie, crisp, or cobbler. Just eating them and enjoying their sweet fragrance.
The last few years, I haven’t been picking myself, but buying them from the local farmstands. We don’t often buy strawberries other than when they are local. Supermarket strawberries from hundreds or thousands of miles away just don’t compare to what our local berries taste like.
I know that the farms will have berries when the wild strawberries that grow in our yard ripen.
This year, the berries are late.
After a mild winter, the spring was chilly. While we had some wet weather in the earlier part of the spring, we are now in a dry spell. It’s all combined to make the local berries late to ripen.
Last week, I was able to find some berries from a farm about sixty miles from here and, yesterday, I finally found some from Broome-Tioga.
There is a fresh strawberry pie setting in the refrigerator. After supper, we will bring it up to Nana and Paco’s to share with them.
It’s best to eat it the day it is made.
It won’t be a hardship for the five of us to finish it.
One of the trade-offs I made in spending five weeks visiting my daughter E in Hawai’i was that I was not at home for local strawberry season. (I can hear you all sarcastically saying “aaaaawwwwww!”)
In our family, strawberry season is one of the most anticipated times of year. We used to go to our favorite local farm to pick them by the bucket, for ourselves and to share with extended family. I will admit the last few years had turned into buying quarts at the farmers’ market, with fewer people at home and a few physical constraints creeping in.
The two to three weeks of the height of strawberry season then turn into an orgy of strawberry eating. Strawberry shortcake was usually the first entrant. Fresh strawberry glacé pie, using a recipe from the farm we used to visit when I was growing up. Strawberry spinach salad. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberries on cereal. Eating strawberries plain or dipped in sugar. Then, there were the strawberry-rhubarb combinations – pie, crisp, and a chilled soup that is one of my favorite dishes ever.
It is all amazingly delicious and special because we seldom eat strawberries unless they are fresh and local.
So I thought I had missed all the strawberries until I went to the farmers’ market this morning. One of the vendors is not a farmer himself, but re-sells produce from various New York and Pennsylvania farms. He must have some suppliers who are a bit further north and still had fresh strawberries. I bought a quart and currently have about half of them washed, sliced, and macerating in the fridge. I baked the shortcakes and will get some whipping cream when I go out on errands this afternoon. The bowl and beater and chilling in the fridge.
I get to surprise B with fresh strawberry shortcake tonight for dessert. I can hardly wait!