When local strawberries appear on the shelves, it means one thing: summer has finally arrived! Strawberries are the first of the summer fruits to ripen, and there’s nothing better than having fresh, locally grown berries in the fridge. They make a great snack, or – with just a dollop of whipped cream – a sweet and simple dessert.
This month is all about strawberries at Chatelaine – and in the test kitchen I’ve learned quite a few things. One of my favourite discoveries? How well they pair with both sweet and savoury dishes (I couldn’t get enough of this month’s strawberry-basil tea sandwiches, they’re the perfect afternoon snack).
Here are five things to know about this summer fruit to prepare you for the arrival of the June – July strawberry season:
1. When choosing berries, let your nose guide you – the sign of a good strawberry is a sweet smell.
2. Unlike many fruits and vegetables, strawberries do not ripen after they have been harvested. That means berries with white or green spots will never be as sweet and juicy as the bright red ones. However, freshly picked, ripe berries can spoil quickly, so make sure to refrigerate them right away.
3. Rinse your berries just before you eat them or use them in a recipe – they will spoil quickly if you rinse them before storing, as the excess water will attract mould.
4. Store berries in the freezer for fresh summer flavour throughout the winter – you can use them straight from the freezer in muffins, pies and sauces. To freeze: spread your berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer them to a resealable bag to store in freezer. They keep well for up to a year.
5. Frozen berries are great for smoothies, but are also an easy substitute for ice cubes on a warm summer day. Not only do they keep your beverage cool, but they also add a subtle sweetness and flavour to your drink.
Watch: How to buy, store and prepare strawberries