Soon strawberry stands will be popping up on the busy corners of my small town. Grocery store strawberries are impostors to these deep red, juicy, flavorful bites of summer candy. Whether organic or not, I can’t help myself from stopping by a stand and buying a pint just to eat fresh.
Once the season is in full swing I make a trip to my favorite strawberry patch about an hour away to pick. Yes, there are patches closer, but this patch is my trusted compromise. They are not certified organic, however they don’t use chemicals once a bloom has formed on the plant. They are a small family run operation that I have gotten to know over the years of going there with my mother. If I had no worries of a budget I would gladly go to an organic patch (if there actually was one around here…). And along the line of no budget worries, I probably wouldn’t pick my own either! Call me lazy.
Benefits of Strawberries
Berries are naturally low in sugar! If you need a healthy, light dessert to top off a meal enjoy most any berry. Strawberries rank lower in sugar per serving than bananas, apples, grapes, oranges and cantaloupe. In comparison to blueberries, they come in at half the sugar content! Of course these numbers fluctuate a bit depending on how the individual berry was raised and harvested. Plus, these powerhouses of nutrients are extremely versatile!
How to Freeze Strawberries
My favorite (and easiest) way to preserve strawberries is to freeze them. Whole, frozen strawberries are handy to throw in smoothies, breakfast oatmeal, or a fruit cocktail bowl.
To Freeze Whole Berries: De-stem and wash berries into a sieve. As you wash, cut out any soft or rotten spots that may have bad flavor. Let the berries drain/dry for a while. Once the berries are relatively dry, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Throw them in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. After the berries have frozen solid put them in some quart freezer bags or quart freezer containers and place them in the freezer for good.
I love using whole berries in my kefir smoothies!
Another frozen, delicious strawberry accent is strawberry sauce. It is so handy to pull out a container of sauce to serve over ice cream, mix into a batch of homemade ice cream, serve over breakfast oatmeal or cereal, mix into a fruit bowl, pour over pancakes or eat on homemade yogurt. If you are feeling really ambitious whip up a strawberry shortcake for a little taste of summer in the dead of January! Another recipe this sauce is handy for is Wellness Mama’s healthy Jello recipe. Delicious!
To Freeze Strawberry Sauce: Trim and wash your berries as usual and let them drain in a sieve. Choose a larger bowl with a relatively flat bottom and put a few berries in the bowl. Use a potato masher to smush the berries. Add a few more berries and smush again. Repeat this until you have all your berries smushed (What a fun word!) up. For added sweetness, stir in a splash of honey or maple syrup. Scoop the berry sauce into odd-ball jars, freezer containers or bags (always leaving space for expansion) and place in the freezer.
Read More: Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
Fresh Strawberry Pie Without Jello
Alas, fresh strawberry pie without Jello is my favorite way to enjoy fresh strawberries. In spite of the horrid ingredients in Jello which my recipe calls for, in the past I have fully enjoyed my one or two pies. After all, strawberries only come once a year!
This year is different because I am pregnant. I couldn’t bear the thought of my innocent baby being bombarded with all that red food coloring and who knows what else ingredients! So I went to the store looking for strawberry juice to make my own Jello base. No luck. I picked up a bottle of apple raspberry juice deciding that would be close enough.
Later I realized I forgot to check the frozen section! On my next trip to the store I found my golden ticket in the frozen section: strawberry daiquiri mix! I brought the can home and mixed it with water instead of alcohol according to the can. I dissolved my plain gelatin, mixed in my remaining ingredients and voila! Fresh strawberry pie!
[Or just order strawberry juice online!]
I must admit the strawberry flavor was a bit strong so I adjusted my dilution and came up with this amazing (and slightly healthier) version of fresh strawberry pie.
- 2 8 or 9 inch Baked Pie Crusts
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups strawberry daiquiri dilution
- 4 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin
- 8 cups of sliced strawberries
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar or maple syrup
- Mix the strawberry daiquiri concentrate with four cans of water.
- In a medium saucepan bring to a boil the sugar, strawberry daiquiri dilution and cornstarch. Boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Meanwhile mix the gelatin into the cold water and let sit until it gels up.
- Once the filling is done boiling remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Let the filling cool to room temperature stirring occasionally.
- While the filling is cooling wash, drain and slice the strawberries. After the filling has cooled mix in the berries and pour the filling into the baked crusts.
- Cover the pies with plastic wrap and refrigerate so they finish firming up.
- When you are close to serving time make the whipped topping.
- Combine the whipping cream and sweetener in a mixing bowl. Note that if you use maple syrup the cream may be a bit weepy. Whip the cream mixture until stiff peaks form.
- Spread on the completely cooled pies.
- One can of daiquiri mix makes a lot of juice! Use the extra to make strawberry syrup for pancakes or yogurt. Freeze it for popsicles. Or fill your ice cube trays with it and throw some strawberry cubes in your next smoothie! And, as I mentioned above, Wellness Mama has an excellent healthy jello recipe that I use!
What do you enjoy most about strawberry season?