Ingredient Spotlight: Strawberries

Cook, In Season, Ingredient Spotlight, Spring

In Season: Strawberries

Bursting with sweetness and vibrant red juice, strawberries are one of spring’s most delicious and anticipated flavors. They lend themselves easily to all kinds of dishes — from breakfast and salads to a multitude of desserts—and no dinner party this season is complete without their signature shade. Read on for our best tips for working with choosing, storing and working with strawberries, then find some simple ways to prepare them this season, straight from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.

 

Strawberries: Everything You Need to Know

What to Look For

Seek out small, fragrant strawberries with a rich, glossy red color and fresh, bright green caps. Avoid any tinged with white or green and those that are shriveled or bruised. Smaller berries are sweeter, so skip the giant fruits.

Varieties

Fraises des bois are wild alpine strawberries, tiny foraged berries that originated in France. They are especially sweet, with an intense aroma that begins to fade as soon as they’re picked. Fraises des bois make a gorgeous presentation when used in tarts, parfaits, or as a simple garnish—and you can also use them as you would strawberries in most recipes. Look for them at your local farmers’ market.

Prepping

Wait until just before you eat the berries to wash them—moisture may cause them to mold. To remove the cap and hull, carve away the stem area with the tip of a paring knife or strawberry huller. If they aren’t quite ripe and sweet enough for your liking, toss cut berries with sugar and let stand. The sugar will bring out the juices to make a sweet natural syrup.

Storing

You can keep ripe strawberries for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. To maintain freshness, store them in single layers between paper towels in an airtight container. They will also freeze well; just rinse, dry and hull them, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until firm. Then you can transfer the berries to plastic bags and keep them for 8 to 10 months. There’s no need to thaw frozen strawberries for most recipes, like sauces, ice creams or dessert fillings.

 

Simple Preparations

When strawberries are perfectly ripe, there’s nothing more satisfying than eating them raw as a snack or simple dessert. Their delicious sweetness easily lends itself to jams, tarts, ice cream and cakes. Heap them on top of pancakes and waffles for a bright, beautiful spring brunch. Find more ideas below!

Macerated Strawberries

Macerated Strawberries: Steep sliced strawberries in a combination of red wine, sugar and lemon zest. Use as a topping for shortcakes or ice cream.

 

Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad

Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad: Combine sliced strawberries with young spinach, goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds. Toss with olive oil, good balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

 

Roasted Strawberry and Ricotta Bruschetta

Roasted Strawberry and Ricotta Bruschetta: Toss halved strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar. Spread flat in a baking pan and roast for 20 minutes in a 300-degree F oven. Spread toasts with ricotta cheese, top with strawberries, and drizzle with good balsamic and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Quick Strawberry Jam

Quick Strawberry Jam: Puree 1 quart strawberries in food processor and combine in a pot with 1/2 cup sugar. Cook until thick and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Transfer to pint jars; cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

 

Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa: Combine diced strawberries, diced red onion, minced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, lime juice and honey. Season with salt. Serve salsa over roasted or grilled fish or chicken, or with tortilla chips.

 

Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon: Place twelve 3-inch squares of puff pastry on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F until golden; let cool. Spread 8 squares with whipped cream; top with sliced strawberries. Stack 2 topped pieces of pastry; cover with plain pastry square.

Recipes

Some of our most beloved strawberry preparations may involve more ingredients or be time-intensive, but they highlight the fruit’s versatility in breakfast, beverages, desserts and more.

Breakfast-Bowl

Smoothie bowls are all the rage right now. Jump on the bandwagon by whipping up this strawberry-flavored breakfast bowl with fresh fruit and granola.

Banana-Strawberry-Almond Smoothie

Five superfoods, including cranberries, almonds, and strawberries, play a starring role in this protein- and fiber-rich smoothie.

Goat Cheese and Strawberries with Mint-Balsamic Glaze

Goat cheese goes well with just about anything, savory or sweet. Here, it stars in this simple dessert with strawberries and a mint-balsamic glaze.

Make It Now: Strawberry Shortcakes

Is there any dessert that’s more classic than strawberry shortcake? We think not.

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Tart

A combination of sorghum flour and rice flour is the secret to the tender, slightly nutty-tasting pastry crust that holds this gorgeous gluten-free strawberry-rhubarb tart together.

 

See more tips and recipes for peak-season produce here!

 

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