Posted by Renee | Filed under Favorites
It is that time of year! The smell of sweet strawberries is in the air, and you can find pints of these red berries in abundance everywhere.
My earliest and fondest memory of the ruby red berry is of my father taking me to the local u-pick. Here, he would hand me a large basket and let me roam free to pick and eat as many berries as humanly possible. For what felt like hours, I would scavenge the plants for the biggest and sweetest berries of the bunch; placing half of them in my mouth and the other half in my basket. Once finished picking, we would head home to sit on our front porch and then proceed to hull the berries. One quarter would get frozen, one quarter would get turned into jam, and the other half was left to be eaten by me and my family. Big bowls of the ripe berries would get doused in heavy cream and sprinkled with sugar; every child’s strawberry fantasy.
Now that I have my own children, I decided to keep up the Lavallée tradition and take them strawberry picking. We visited Riverbreeze Farm this past Saturday. 36lbs later, the hulling party began and the first thing I made was strawberry ice cream. As for the other 30-odd pounds, a strawberry jam festivus will take place later this week.
My favorite variety of strawberry is the “Alpine” also known as the “Fraises De Bois” or wild strawberries. This variety bears fruit that is no bigger than your thumbnail, but the flavor is out of this world! Unfortunately, these tiny treasures are very rare in North America, and can now be found almost exclusively in France. Luckily enough growing up, an old woman named Veronique, used to barter with my father and would pay him in wild strawberry jam. 6 jars of heaven would arrive every summer and my mother would keep them hidden until a special occasion arose. The intense strawberry flavor is one that even I cannot describe. I would liberally butter a fresh piece of baguette and gently spoon some of the jam over it; a few moments of pure ecstasy.
Try and take the time this summer to visit a local u-pick to get some fresh berries when in season. Can, jam, freeze or eat, now is the time to seize the berry!
Please stay tuned later this week as I’ll be posting a video on how to make strawberry ice cream. When we shot this video, I had my daughter Zoé at my side helping me through the proces and sneaking a ton of fresh berries along the way… It’s a pretty simple recipe that highlights how incredible this fruit tastes when it’s picked fresh.