Time for Strawberries!

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Fresh strawberries in baskets

Along with spring showers, April brings ripe, red strawberries to market. While fresh strawberries are available year-round, nothing beats the in-season berries that appear from April through June. Pick up a basket or two and add a rosy touch of spring to salads, snacks, drinks, and desserts.

Strawberries are picked ripe, so unripe fruit will not ripen further after picking. Select plump, brightly colored berries with fresh green caps. If packaged in a container, check the bottom for bruised, moldy or shriveled berries. Be sure to sort the berries before storing them, discarding any that are moldy or bruised. Without washing or hulling them, refrigerate in a covered container for 2 to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze strawberries. Wash and hull them as directed below. Pat dry and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer to airtight freezer containers or bags. Freeze for up to 8 months.

Always wash strawberries before hulling them and just before using them to preserve flavor. Simply give them a quick, gentle rinse in cold water. Never soak berries in water or they can become waterlogged. Gently pat dry with paper towels.

Hulling strawberries removes their green caps and inner white cores. Use your fingertips to pull off the leafy caps and then cut out the soft white cores with the tip of a paring knife. Use an egg slicer to quickly and evenly slice washed and hulled strawberries. One pint yields about 2 cups sliced strawberries.

Strawberries can be served several ways. Try some of these ideas the next time you have strawberries on hand.

  • Toss sliced strawberries in salads or over bowls of your favorite cereal.
  • Stir chopped strawberries into pancake or muffin batter.
  • Add strawberries to your favorite blender drinks or milkshakes.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over a pint of sliced berries and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve the syrupy strawberry sauce over scoops of ice cream.
  • Dip whole strawberries in melted semi-sweet baking chocolate. Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet until chocolate sets.
  • Garnish desserts, such as prepared pudding, with whole or sliced strawberries.

Strawberry Tossed Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. unsweetened orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 one-half cups torn leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups torn Bibb lettuce
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Combine lettuces, strawberries, green onions and sesame seeds in a large bowl; toss well. Add orange juice mixture and toss gently. Serve immediately.

No Sugar Strawberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 8 individual packets NutraSweet or Splenda
  • 2 small boxes sugar free strawberry gelatin
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 2 (8-inch) pie shells, baked

Directions

Slice strawberries, sprinkle with NutraSweet or Splenda. Mix cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened; add gelatin. Combine mixture with strawberries. Pour into pie crust. Chill at least three hours.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled
  • One-third cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • One-fourth tsp vanilla extract

Directions

In a food processor, combine strawberries, sugar, lemon or lime juice and vanilla. Puree, then chill. Serve sauce over custard, ice cream or pound cake. Makes 2 cups.