Few people can resist them — plump, juicy, vibrant red physiques dimpled with seeds that can send almost anyone’s taste buds into a spin. With the summer season officially upon us, it’s high time for all of those strawberry lovers out there to start snacking, and also a good chance to catch up on some knowledge that will help even the most strawberry-savvy take full advantage of the lovable fruit.
When is strawberry season? Strawberry season usually commences in late May and lasts for about three to four weeks. Because of the milder winter this year, strawberries arrived early and so therefore may depart early as well, so now is a better time than ever to start taking full advantage of them at their peak.
What, exactly, are strawberries? Strawberries are members of the Rosaceae family, or more eloquently, Rose. Rich in antioxidants, strawberries are also praised for being a great source of vitamin C — just a cup of them vastly exceeds the daily recommended amount and the amount found in oranges. Their existence has been dated as far back as 234 B.C., but many strawberry enthusiasts claim that they were first discovered by settlers in the U.S. and were then brought back to Europe.
How do I go about using strawberries? First and foremost, it’s good to know how to pick them and store them before you can even think about using strawberries. Strawberries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, so when you’re looking in the store, shop with your nose; look for the most aromatic carton with berries that have a slick, natural shine and bright green caps. When storing them, keep them in the refrigerator in an open container so that air can circulate around them, and don’t wash them or remove their caps until you’re ready to use them.
Now that you’re up to speed on what they are and when to get them and how, you’re ready to put them to use. While the usual recipes like strawberry short cake and rhubarb never let us down, these are some unique and out-of-the-box ways to use this season’s most celebrated bounty.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce