‘Tis the season… for strawberries!
Sweet and juicy with an appealing floral earthiness… there’s so much to love about fresh strawberries!
What’s more, research has proven that natural foods are nutritionally richest when had in season, so make the most of strawberry season while it lasts from November through March.
The luscious fruit is the star of the show during this time, as its versatile nature easily lends itself to several cooking techniques from baking and blending to chilling and grilling. Chop it into your morning smoothie (or cocktail!), add it to your favourite salad or let it take centre stage at the dessert table…
But before we go about rounding up our favourite recipes, here are a few tips and tricks for picking and handling the fruit correctly…
Farmers typically harvest strawberries when they are around three-quarters of the way ripe (with some white lingering on the surface). Colour is this the easiest way to gauge ripeness, as most Indian varieties transition from green and white to a distinctively bright shade of red.
You can tell if the strawberries have over-ripened as they would seem withered and lacking their characteristic sheen. Bruised strawberries might ooze a fermented juice or could be covered with a whitish mold.
If the fruit has been stocked at room-temperature, you can also rely on smell as sweet fruits tend to have a floral, earthy aroma (chilled strawberries do not emit any fragrance).
Interestingly, some also look at the distance between the seeds on the surface to determine the level of ripeness. This theory holds that if the seeds are tightly packed together, the fruit did not sufficiently ripen before it was plucked. Conversely, wide spacing between the seeds would suggest that the fruit has adequately expand and ripened before harvesting!
Then there’s the taste test. Ideally, strawberries should be juicy, robustly hitting both sweet and tart notes. Did you know that this unique profile is a feature of over 300 compounds contributing to its compositional make-up?
Strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to handle as there is no peeling, de-coring or de-seeding needed.
When cutting it, try twisting the leaves and then removing the stem with a small paring knife. This avoids wasting part of the fruit, as compared to if you just cut off the top straight away!
Strawberries are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and kept as dry as possible (as they can bruise rather easily). Line the container with a paper towel and space the strawberries well apart from each other.
Remember to remove the fruits from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you’re about to have them, as chilled fruits are generally less flavourful than at room temperature.
Our favorite strawberry-based recipes
- Blend fresh strawberries into your morning smoothie; this fruit pairs particularly well with a banana, kiwis, handful of other berries and yogurt or nut mylk.
- For a refreshing dessert-like mocktail, you could also try blending strawberries into an Italian-style semi-frozen granita.
Snack on it
- Chop strawberries into a bowl of Greek yogurt and sprinkle homemade granola on top; or add dehydrated (freeze-dried) strawberries to your trail mix.
- Spear onto fruit skewers, to be served with a chocolate dipping sauce or honey on the side.
Let it be the main event.
- Add a luscious touch to your next salad with elegantly sliced strawberries. The tart yet mild flavor profile of marries well with a light vinaigrette dressing (such as balsamic-based) as well as sharp herbs such as basil and mint.
- For something a little different, pair strawberries and blue cheese together in this scrumptiously savoury tart.
… Or make a dessert of it!
- Bake a strawberry crumble, to be served with a scoop of your favourite ice-cream on the side!
- You could also make a strawberry-flavoured mishit doi – for an elegantly refreshing note on which to round off a heavy Indian meal!