Don’t miss our recipe for a no-sweetener-necessary Strawberry Fridge Pie at the end of this post!
We know it’s been quite a while, but in honor of the first week of berry season happening right now in Virginia, we were inspired to resurrect the Tutorial Thursday post. Over the next couple months, different kinds of berries will come into season and then disappear until next year. I reckon that this makes this late spring to early summer period the sweetest time of year. And the first berry to come into season is…
Bright red and sweet as sugar, few foods are as recognizable and beloved as the strawberry. In this tutorial, we’ll set you up to get your own strawberries and start cooking for a flavorful summer!
History of Strawberries
Wild strawberries, which are small and rounder than the ones we eat today, have been known in Europe since Roman times and were also waiting for the Europeans on the other side of the world when they got there in the 16th century. Eventually, French botanists started us on the path to modern strawberries about 300 years ago when they crossbred a North American strawberry with a Chilean strawberry. Since then, we’ve bred them for size, sweetness, and juiciness until we got the delicious berries we harvest today.
Soon, strawberries became one of the most beloved flavors and scents. We add it to everything, from air fresheners, lip gloss, and perfumes to flavorings for milk, ice cream, and jelly. So let’s figure out how to cook with the real deal.
Strawberries are uniquely powerful foods. They’re one of the greatest sources of vitamin C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. This means consumption of strawberries is extremely healthy and linked to improved cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation and even cancer prevention. They’re also a lower carb sweet food, making them an excellent alternative for sweet treats in your diet.
Organic vs. Not
First: Beware that strawberries are on the dirty dozen list!
As noted in Alex Boake’s earlier guest post on our site, this means that conventionally grown strawberries are likely to contain high amounts of pesticide and herbicide residues. You should definitely wash your strawberries if you don’t get them organic.
Or you can do what we do and find a local farm where you can pick your own! Strawberries grow in low lying plants that are fun to look through. The season here in the Mid Atlantic is from the end of May through early June, but your area’s season may vary.
Bonus: you pick farms result in great times together as a family,
whereby young boys may actually show affection and pick flowers for their mother ♥
Strawberries may go bad very quickly, particularly the organic kind, so prepare to freeze them pretty quickly! Simply core them (chop into pieces if you’d like), then place them in a single layer in a freezer bag. Important note: leave the bag empty enough to leave space between each berry so that they freeze individually and don’t end up stuck together. Frozen strawberries are great in smoothies, jams, pies, or other applications that don’t require a berry that slices.
Unlike apples and oranges, the names of specific strawberry cultivars is not well known by the public at large. But they are quite plentiful. The considerations for strawberry production are size of the berry, flavor, and length of the season. Some berries only produce once while ever bearing plants can produce multiple times per year. Some popular varieties are Ozark Beauties, Allstar and Jewel. See this article for more information.
Our entire lives we’ve been hulling strawberries with a paring knife. Turns out, we have been doing it WRONG! While at the farm we “splurged” on a special strawberry huller they had for sale for $1.00. While we rarely advocate the use of special tools where other general utility tools can serve the same purpose, but take a look for yourself how much flesh is saved with the huller! Sam hulled half our berries with the knife and we hulled the other half with the tool.
While we offer lots of tasty recipes for strawberry use below, really the absolute best way to eat them is just with whipped cream. Of course, if you want to make a great pie, you need to make great whipped cream too. We love our iSi cream whipper which allows us to pour in cream, charge with CO2 and spray easily. Alternatively, you could whip the cream by hand and then transfer to a pastry bag to top your pie (as pictured here).
While we talk about the health benefits of grass-fed heavy cream here, if you want an alternative to heavy cream, coconut cream will also work in the iSi. We recommend Natural Value Coconut Milk for this purpose.
Here’s some of our favorite strawberry recipes!
Strawberry Fridge Pie (no sweetener necessary)
Lately our family has been making an effort to eat as natural as possible and reduce our sugar intake. With the natural sweetness from freshly picked ripe berries, no sweetener is needed in this pie. If you’re using out of season berries, we recommend adding 2 tablespoons honey to the gelatin pie mixture.
- 15 soft, pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 C raw cashews
- 1/2 C raw pecans
- 1/2 C almond flour
- 3 C strawberries, cored
- 1 1/2 C water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp gelatin or Vital Proteins Green Label
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Whipped cream or coconut cream
- Sliced strawberries
- Preheat over to 350 degrees
- In a food processor, pulse together all the crust ingredients until well combined. Crust should stick together when pinched.
- Press crust into a 9 inch pie pan, pushing outward to create an evenly distributed crust.
- Bake crust for ten minutes at 350 degrees.
- Meanwhile, combine strawberries, water, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue simmering for 10 minutes or strawberries completely soften and sauce thickens.
- Add gelatin, vanilla and salt and whisk to incorporate.
- Remove from heat and pour into cooked pie crust. Place pie in the refrigerator and allow to cool for 2 hours.
- Top with whipped cream or coconut cream and fresh, sliced strawberries.