Saving Spring Strawberries
LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #28. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
Strawberries, dandelion greens, asparagus, and rhubarb are all indicative of spring, but strawberries are the only item on the list that are grown in any significant numbers here in the piedmont. So what does that mean?
There are a lot of former tobacco farms in close proximity to Greensboro that have switched over to growing strawberries in the last 10 or 15 years. There’s a rather thriving business of pick-your-own strawberry farms, too.
Find a pick-your-own strawberry farm near you at pickyourown.org
The first year we moved here, my family and I went out and picked strawberries until our hearts content. We filled two flat boxes full of strawberries. We came home, washed them up, ate a bunch of fresh berries, and then we were full. But we still had one and three-quarters boxes of strawberries left! They just don’t disappear.
You don’t want to see the fruits of your labor – your toiling in the field – go to waste. You can fill a mason jar full of the bruised berries and make your own vinegar; soak them in brandy; and, freeze a box worth of berries and save them until fall. Here’s how.
Make strawberry vinegar
Fill a mason jar with some of the bruised and overripe strawberries. Add red wine vinegar, cap it off, and let it sit for about a month.
Mash it up, then strain the berries out, and keep the strawberry vinegar/juice.
Add strawberry vinegar to grilled summer vegetables. Place lightly salted grilled vegetables on the plate and sprinkle with a little strawberry vinegar. It will remind you of spring, brightens the flavor, and adds a little zest to the bland expanse that is summer squash.
Strawberries on the rocks
Steep berries in a mason jar full of your favorite booze, such as bourbon or brandy. Let the jar sit for a few months. Purée, then strain out the berry mash.
It would be fine if you let the strawberries soak for a day, but I try to do things like that for a month or so.
Freeze strawberries to last you the whole summer
- Wash whole berries.
- Drain berries on a kitchen towel.
- Trim off the green part and any excessively white part.
- Set the trimmed strawberries on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Space them out so they don’t touch.
- Set the pan of strawberries in the freezer, uncovered, overnight.
- Then, collect the strawberries and put them in a ziploc freezer bag for long-term storage.
Materials needed: pan, knife, parchment paper, freshly picked strawberries, a freezer, and a ziploc bag for storage.
Use frozen strawberries for ice cubes. Eat them frozen for a sweet summer treat. Thaw them out and chop them up as needed for pancakes, or our special infused vinegar.