Oregon Strawberries are sweeter, redder, better
Goodbye winter and hello, summer! It’s strawberry season and local growers are finally able to start picking and selling. How do I know? Because I called Eden Valley Farm and Laura’s Berdeen’s recorded voice said that they are open and selling picked and u-pick berries.
Oregon grown strawberries are the best tasting berries in the world. And while it’s always wise to buy locally grown produce, it’s especially delicious if you do so during strawberry season. Our strawberries are sweeter and juicier than those bred for shipment from other areas. So you will usually be more than satisfied with a local berry’s deep red color, juicy texture and intense flavor.
If you must buy berries from the grocery store, shop with your nose as well as your eyes. Be selective. Imported, store bought berries tend to be beautiful but crunchy and tasteless. Smell the package. Strawberries must smell like berries if they are to taste like berries. Choose fruit that is plump and dry with a bright red color. And remember, bigger is not better. Smaller berries are often the tastiest.
When you get the berries home, don’t wash them unless you’re going to eat them right away. Water is the enemy. When storing, first pick through them and discard any mushy or spoiled fruit. Place them in a colander, uncovered, in the refrigerator until ready to eat or use in a recipe. Then, quickly rinse them with cool water and pat dry.
And when you get around to eating them (best if done in 24 hours), ponder this little known fact: The strawberry, a member of the rose family, is unique in that it is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside. An interesting bit of fruit trivia …
The following recipes are all from the Oregon Strawberry Commission. The Strawberry-Chicken Salad makes a nice “company’s coming” luncheon dish and the strawberry chutney recipe adds a little extra zip!
Don’t be discouraged by the fancy sounding “Napoleon” dessert. Napoleons are traditionally made up of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of cream. The top layer is either glazed with icing or dusted with powdered sugar. This one is easily prepared using frozen (and thawed) Phyllo dough. The pastry cream is simply a classic form of vanilla pudding. If you like, you may substitute freshly whipped cream.
And finally, nothing could be simpler than this low-fat strawberry ice cream recipe. There are only five ingredients to mix together and process according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Enjoy!
1/2 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped chutney (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 pints hulled fresh Oregon strawberries, divided
Lettuce leaves or chopped greens of your choice
In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, chutney, lime zest, salt, curry powder and lime juice. Add chicken, celery and onion; toss, cover and chill.
Just before serving, slice enough strawberries to make 2 cups; gently toss with chicken mixture.
Line platter or individual serving plates with lettuce. Mound chicken salad in center. Garnish with remaining whole strawberries.
Makes 4 servings
Note: Homemade or bottled chutney and curry add exotic flavor to this main-dish salad. Try this recipe:
1 cup strawberry preserves
1 can (17 oz.) pear halves, drained and chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon chopped, crystallized ginger
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Mix well, cover and chill at least 2 hours. Keep refrigerated to store. Serve with pork, chicken, turkey, duck or ham. Makes about 2 cups
8 sheets Phyllo dough, thawed according to package instructions
3 cups pastry cream, at room temperature (recipe follows)
3 cups thawed fresh-frozen strawberries, sliced
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick vegetable spray.
Spray a sheet of the Phyllo dough with nonstick spray, fold in half and spray again, then fold again and spray again. Cut the folded dough in quarters to make four even rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets of Phyllo.
Place the rectangles on the baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully, as they burn easily.
For each Napoleon, spread three of the rectangles with 1 tablespoon of the pastry cream each, add 1 tablespoon of the berries to each layer. Stack the three layers, then top with the remaining rectangle. Lightly dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all sixteen Napoleons have been assembled. Serves 12-16 depending on appetites.
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 yolk)
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
Using double boiler, heat 2 1/2 cups milk until steam rises from the surface.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, remaining 1/2 cup milk and sugar. Sift in cornstarch, and whisk until well blended.
Remove milk from heat, and gradually whisk in egg mixture. Return pan to top of double boiler and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to bowl, press plastic wrap onto pastry cream surface, and refrigerate for up to 3 days
5 egg yolks
1 quart low-fat milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry flavored liqueur
1 cup fresh strawberries
Combine all ingredients.
Follow instructions for your ice cream machine.
Cover and store in freezer. Serves 10