Georgia Cooks: Strawberries

 


Sweet Georgia strawberries are the perfect accompaniment to a variety of Georgia cheeses.

No one is 100 percent sure how strawberries got their name. The name certainly does not come from the practice of mulching the plants with straw. They were being called strawberries long before anyone was cultivating them. A widely accepted theory is that the name derives from “strew” because the berries appear to be strewn on the ground, a contrast to other fruits that grow on shrubs, vines or trees.

The strawberry may have been named for its lowly position scattered on the ground, but in the kitchen it is among highest-rated of all fruits. Strawberries are valued for their fragrance, color, versatility, flavor and sweetness. And because they are the first fruit of the season, they are beloved as embodying the full essence of spring.

A bowl of fresh strawberries is perhaps one of the simplest (and healthiest) desserts, but there are thousands of recipes using strawberries: from the classic strawberry shortcake to salads. And because people want to enjoy strawberries all year long, cooks and food scientists have perfected ways to freeze the berries for future use or convert them into jams and preserves for use throughout the year.

 

Strawberry shortcake served at the Dept.
of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown luncheon.

Freezing strawberries

Here are some tips for freezing strawberries from So Easy To Preserve, Third Edition, Cooperative Extension Service/The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences/Athens.

Preparation

Preparation: Select fully ripe, firm berries. Wash and remove caps.

Whole Berries Syrup Pack

Put berries into containers and cover with cold 50 percent syrup (50-50 water and sugar), leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Whole Berries Sugar Pack

Put berries into containers and cover with cold 50 percent syrup, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Sliced or Crushed

Prepare for packing as for whole strawberries; then slice or crush partially or completely. To 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) berries add ¾ cup sugar, mix thoroughly. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved or let stand for 15 minutes. Pack into container, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.

Sugar Pack

Sprinkle sugar over the fruit and mix gently until the juice is drawn out and the sugar dissolved. Soft, sliced fruits such as peaches, strawberries, figs, de-seeded grapes, plums and cherries will yield sufficient syrup for covering if the fruit is layered with sugar and allowed to stand 15 minutes. Some small, whole fruits may be coated with sugar and frozen.

Dry Pack

The dry pack is good for small, whole fruits such as berries that give a good quality product without sugar. Simply pack the fruit into a container, seal and freeze.

A tray pack is an alternative that may make the fruit easier to remove from the container. Simply spread a single layer of prepared fruit on shallow trays and freeze. When frozen, promptly package and return to the freezer. The fruit pieces remain loose and can be poured from the container and the package re-closed. Be sure to package the fruit as soon as it is frozen, to prevent freezer burn.

Unsweetened Packs

In addition to a dry pack, unsweetened fruit can be packed in water, unsweetened juice or pectin syrup. Unsweetened packs generally yield a product that does not have the plump texture and good color of those packed with sugar. The fruits freeze harder and take longer to thaw. The pectin syrup is often used for fruits such as strawberries or peaches that retain their texture better than if frozen in water or juice.

Strawberry recipes from the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin:

Strawberry Spinach Salad w/ Glazed Pecans & Poppy Seed Dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Glazed Pecans and Poppy Seed Dressing

Click the recipe above to enlarge and print


Strawberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

Strawberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

Click the recipe above to enlarge and print

Strawberry-Pineapple Dessert

Strawberry-Pineapple Dessert

Click the recipe above to enlarge and print

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

This is a low-fat dessert with a whisper of sourness from the buttermilk. The success of the ice cream, of course, is to use the sweetest in-season berries.

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Click the recipe above to enlarge and print

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