There is some speculation of why "straw" precedes "berry" in this juicy red fruit. One assumption is that it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "streow," meaning hay, because strawberries were ripe at the time the hay was mowed. Another assumption is that the berry beds were covered with straw to keep the weeds down. Whatever its word origin, the strawberry was originally cultivated as a garden plant in France in the 1200s. The first American species was developed around 1835.
Strawberries should be plump, well-rounded, bright red and with the green caps in place. Avoid berries with large uncolored or seedy areas. There should be no mold, moisture, or damage on the berries. Briefly store strawberries, covered, in the refrigerator. Never wash berries or remove caps until just before using. Washing removes the protective outer layer. Caps protect the berries and help preserve flavor and nutrients.
Available year-round with peak supply April through July. Supplies are at a low point October through January although some berries are available.
About 70 varieties are under production in the United States. Among the most important varieties are Douglas, Pajaro, Chandler, Selva and, Driscoll.
Be gentle. To wash, place in a strainer and use a gentle spray of cool water. Remove caps after washing so no water soaks into the berry itself. Give the cap a gentle twist or use the sharp end of a paring knife. Pat the berries dry with a paper towel before serving sliced, fresh, or cooked. They can also be used to create jams and jellies, and they are irresistible in salads, parfaits, cobblers, or strawberry pie and shortcake.
Serve large, stemmed strawberries with a palette of dips/sauces, including: melted chocolate, white chocolate blended with sour cream, cream cheese blended with kirsch liqueur.
Top each quarter of club sandwich with a whole, capped strawberry.
Combine sour cream, cream cheese and orange-flavored liqueur. Sweeten to taste with brown sugar. Serve over strawberries as Strawberries Romanoff.
Fresh Strawberry dressing for fruit plates: Mash hulled berries and stir into prepared honey-lime or poppyseed dressing. Center each fruit plate with additional whole berries.
Garnish every sweet-sour or stir fried entree with halved berries which have been splashed with fruit or balsamic vinegar.
Strawberry Mountain Waffles: create a "mountain" of whole hulled strawberries in the center of regular or Belgian waffles. Serve with strawberry-flavored syrup or create syrup by mashing strawberries with just enough corn syrup to sweeten. Use a similar presentation for crepes or pancakes.
Melt butter and sugar in flambee pan. Allow mixture to turn to syrup. Add orange juice and reduce. Place the whole strawberries and Cointreau into the mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the brandy over the strawberries and set alight. Serve immediately.
Beat together the egg yolks, half the sugar and two thirds of blended strawberries. Whip together the egg whites and remaining sugar until creamy. Carefully add the egg whites to the egg yolks. Pour the mixture into a dish which has been buttered and dusted with sugar. Poach in a bain-marie for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the bain-marie and bake in an oven (325-350 degrees F) for 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with whipped cream.
Provided by Driscoll's
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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