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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Fresh Strawberry Season Nearing An End for 2021

By Sherrie Norris

Since early May, roadside produce stands have tempted our taste buds with one of the season’s most-requested fruits – the strawberry.

While we’ve been able to enjoy them by the gallon in recent weeks — turning them into everything from jams, parfaits and delectable desserts— this year’s “local” growing season is fast coming to an end.

When I say “local,” I mean those luscious, juicy jewels coming from the piedmont area and beyond, making their way on the back of pickup trucks for us mountain folks to quickly claim and devour. 

We appreciate those who make this delicacy available to us every spring, and love knowing that through various means of preservation, we can enjoy them in some form for months to come.

One of this year’s highlights, and a welcome surprise to many, was learning that local produce dealer, Allen Curtis, was able to man the storefront of his former business for a day or two doing what he loves best — selling fresh, juicy strawberries. We didn’t make it back to town for the occasion, but loved seeing his smiling face on social media. After dealing with Covid and its he debilitating effects for months, he was able to sell his berries one more time. 

I’m going to miss this year’s strawberries when they’re gone, but will share a few ways to use what we can in the coming days. 

And, of course, we can always pick up a pint or a quart at the grocery store year-round, but there’s nothing to beat the taste of those first juicy Carolina berries this time every year.

Berry Breakfast Tacos

2 Tbs. butter

6 flour tortillas

1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

1 Tbs. honey

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1 3/4 cups sliced fresh strawberries

In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon butter over medium-low heat. Add 1 tortilla; cook each side until light golden, 1 – 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and tortillas. Set aside until all are done.

Beat together cream cheese, honey and cinnamon; slowly mix in yogurt until blended. Spread tortillas with cream cheese mixture; top with strawberries.

Note: Can use with other berries as desired.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 prepared pie crust 

5 cups strawberries, divided

1 cup sugar

3 Tbs. cornstarch

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tbs. sugar

Hull and slice strawberries, set aside one cup of berries. 

Layer 2 cups of the sliced strawberries on the bottom of the baked pie crust. Mash 2 cups of the berries.

Combine the mashed strawberries with the sugar and cornstarch in a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened, for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Pour the strawberry filling over the top of the pie, spreading evenly. Top with halved strawberries and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

To make the whipped cream, combine the heavy whipping cream and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat over medium speed until fluffy. Serve over the top of each slice of pie and enjoy.

Strawberry Trifle

1 cup cold whole milk 

1 cup sour cream

1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups whipped topping

8 cups cubed angel food cake

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries 

In a large bowl, beat milk, sour cream and pudding mix on low speed until thickened. Fold in whipped topping. Place half of the cake cubes in a trifle bowl or a deep glass dish. Arrange a third of the strawberries around sides of bowl and over cake; top with half of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining berries. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Simple Strawberry Butter

6 large fresh strawberries at room temperature,  washed with stems removed 

1 cup butter, softened

½ to 1 cup powdered sugar

Pulse strawberries in blender. Add butter and 1/2 cup  powdered sugar; process until blended. Add enough remaining confectioners’ sugar to reach a spreading consistency and desired level of sweetness. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Fresh strawberries

Semi-sweet chocolate chips and shortening or chocolate coating

Ahead of time, rinse (and let air dry) fresh strawberries with stems intact. For each batch, melt 1cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening over double boiler, stirring constantly.  Or melt coating as package directs.

Dip strawberry halfway in chocolate and place on waxed paper until set. Best if served the same day.

Strawberry Lemonade

1 qt. strawberries, sliced

3 cups cold water

¾ cup lemon juice

¾ cup sugar

2 cups club soda

Mix all together in blender until berries are pureed. Refrigerate. Best served over ice.

Stuffed Strawberry Bites

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened 

1/3 cup powdered’ sugar

1/4  tsp. vanilla extract

Large fresh strawberries 

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. shortening

Graham cracker crumbs, optional

For filling, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and extract until smooth. Remove stems from strawberries. Using a paring knife, cut a 1-in.-deep opening in the stem end of strawberries. Pipe or spoon cream cheese mixture into openings. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberries; if desired, sprinkle lightly with graham cracker crumbs. Refrigerate until set.