Real food has seasons: Strawberries

Real food fresh organic strawberries
T'is the season ... for strawberries. These local organic strawberries were growing this morning.

We have become spoiled with having access to a complete selection of fruits and vegetables year round. I must qualify that, however. We have become spoiled with access, but very tolerant of low quality. If you have been paying attention to the quality and price of your produce, you may have noticed the inverse relationship between quality and price. When strawberries are cheap, they are excellent. When they cost the earth, they are usually disappointing. That’s because there is a strawberry season.

Right now is strawberry season on the Canadian prairies. This year is a little later than normal, and certainly later than our southern neighbors, but no matter when the local season is, your best bet for reasonable prices and superb quality is buying in-season and local. Next best is buying in-season produce at the grocery store. If you don’t have access to local growers, and you get a great deal on strawberries in the store, and those strawberries are really good, chances are, you are buying in the spring, and it is time to stock up.

Real food strawberries and cream
Fresh, organic, local strawberries in cream.

I rarely buy strawberries in the store. I buy a large quantity of strawberries when they are in season, and put strawberries on the menu whenever I can. This is the time that I will have straight strawberries as a snack, strawberries and cream, strawberries in salads, even strawberries in my sandwiches. For me, July is strawberry everything. If I moved to Indiana, strawberry month would probably be May. The date is not important, but the pattern of eating is. By eating strawberries in season, the berries taste great, and I know I am getting all of the nutrients that strawberries offer. (See this article for the impressive benefits list this berry offers.)

Real food strawberries frozen in a single layer image
Fresh, local strawberries ready for the freezer. The berries are spread in single layers separated by plastic wrap. When frozen, they will be placed in good quality freezer bags.

I also freeze plenty of berries for later in the season. While I don’t use frozen strawberries on my salads and sandwiches, frozen berries are still great, just slightly sweetened (the sweet berries require much less honey or sugar to make them taste like a luxury desert). I also enjoy strawberry smoothies all year. In fact, I had my last local-berry smoothie in June this year. Frozen in a single layer, strawberries can be used in any amount desired. If you use a good-quality freezer bag, and keep air out of the bag, strawberries will easily last in the freezer until the next season comes along.

Take advantage of your local season for strawberries, and buy as many as you can use for the year. (See how to prepare strawberries quickly.) In addition to the supply I freeze, I always buy enough strawberries to make strawberry conserve for my own jam use, and for gifts. I have a batch in progress now and will feature this way to preserve berries when it is complete. Note: I’ve tried drying strawberries, but they have not turned out well. If anyone has a successful method, I would love to hear it.

With your own supply, you can bypass the flavorless, cardboard-textured, expensive strawberries through the rest of the year. Not only will you save money, when the first berries are ready next year, they will be a real treat.

 

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