The shortest season: Strawberries

DSC_0032One of the greatest things about sweet, ripe local strawberries is when they overflow in the markets – for that short season when they’re ripe, everybody has them.  The worst thing is how short a season it is – 3 or 4 weeks if we’re lucky. Other things like peaches and apples have lots of varieties and stretch over  several months, but not strawberries. Even with some different varieties that fruit all summer, the yield is poor, and  it’s the combination of being the first sweet juicy fruit of the season along with being the only fruit at that time, along with being only available for so short a time that makes them irresistible.Yes, you can buy them in the grocery shipped in form Florida or California, but there is no comparison to fresh & local! I have been buying a couple of quarts each week and eating them all: whole, sliced with yogurt,  strawberry shortcake, strawberry cake, strawberry bread, strawberry butter…Yum!  I kept thinking I’d have some to freeze or make jam with, but they were just too good! I think this is the last week, though – there was only one vendor, and he didn’t have very many.

Strawberries are also very good with a splash of really really good quality balsamic vinegar on berries tossed with touch of sugar.

And then there’s strawberry ice cream. I have a little 1/2 gallon countertop ice cream maker that is perfect for small amounts of homemade ice cream. And an easy ice cream recipe – just cream, milk, sugar & vanilla & strawberries. No cooking, just mix and pour into the ice cream maker.

Recipe: Slice or chop 1 pint strawberries into a bowl. Add 1/3 cup sugar, mix well, and allow to macerate (that means the juice is drawn out of the berries)for at least 2 hours (up to about 10 hours is OK). Refrigerate to chill.

Mix 3/4 cup sugar into 3/4 cup cold whole milk until dissolved (2 -4 minutes). Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream, the juice from the berries, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir together, then pour into countertop-size ice cream freezer and follow directions for your machine. About halfway through the freezing time, when the ice cream is beginning to take shape, but is still very soft, add the strawberries. Continue until ice cream is ready. If you put it int eh freezer for an hour or two, it will firm up nicely. But it’s so much more fun to eat it right away.

Makes approximately 1/2 gallon.

strawberry bowl

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