What To Do With 9lbs of Strawberries
It’s a first-world problem if there ever was one– and here in the Northeast, a short-lived, annual one that presents itself in June.
That is: What do you do with the enormous basket of tender, ripe strawberries you score from your local pick-your-own berry farm?
As anyone who has been in this situation can attest, time is not on your side. From the moment those beauties get picked off their stems, you’re in a race against time to eat or process the gorgeous, perfectly ripe, ruby gems before they start heading downhill into mushy, brown reject territory.
Last year, if you’ll recall, I baked gluten-free strawberry muffins and cooked a strawberry-rhubarb compote with what was left from the haul after my husband siphoned off a pound to make a batch of strawberry sorbet.
This year, we doubled our take-home volume, and it called for some more recipes. Alex settled on Strawberry Ice Cream as his project. As for me, I’m a little picky when it comes to strawberry recipes, as I hate anything that calls for mixing berries with jelly or topping them with sticky-sweet glazes that mask the simple sweetness of a perfectly ripe berry. So once the kids were in bed, I settled on a few ideas that would enable me to capture my ripe berries in their glory.
8 hours after picking: Bake Gluten-Free Banana Strawberry Quickbread with Chocolate Chips. This fun little recipe (link provided), created by Jenn Oliver of the Jenn Cuisine blog, came to me via Pinterest, and it won me over with its relatively moderate added sugar content (1/2 cup brown sugar total). While I had to take some liberties with the amount of gluten free flour the recipe calls for (my batter was way too liquid when I followed the recipe exactly, so I added a bit more to thicken the batter)… the results were no worse for the wear. The final product was delicious. I froze half for future use and gave the other half away as a hostess gift for a Father’s Day lunch we attended the following morning. (Note to self: try in muffin form next time!)
18 hours after picking: Make Gluten-free Dutch Baby Pancakes with Fresh Berries for breakfast. For this recipe, I turned to Nicole Humm, author of Gluten Free on a Shoestring. If you haven’t had a Dutch Baby–also called a German Pancake in some circles–it’s basically an eggy pancake that is baked in the oven rather than griddled on a stovetop. When it comes out, it’s a large, flat crepe-like pancake that’s puffed up and spongy in texture. You the slice it like a pie, top it open faced with sliced fresh fruit and perhaps a dusting of lemon zest or confectioner’s sugar.
At this point, I also set aside a small container to give away to neighbors. These berries are ripening faster than I can handle them.
30 hours after picking: Uh oh. Berries are already starting to cross over to the dark side. Time to salvage the remaining goodness by washing, hulling and pureeing the rest of the berries for future use. First, I filled a few popsicle molds 2/3 of the way up with the fresh puree. Then, I rinsed out the blender and pureed some very ripe kiwis we had lying around. I topped the beautiful red berry puree with the bright green kiwi puree and set the layered Strawberry-Kiwi Popsicles to freeze. No added sugar necessary. This will be a lovely surprise for the kiddos on an oppressively hot day this summer. The remaining puree went into a Ziploc freezer bag and has been frozen for future use.