It’s strawberry season!!
I love strawberries and I feel like I have been to so many farmer’s markets for berries that they all know me on a first name basis!!
If any of you are from around York Region, I always go to the 19th Avenue Farmers Market (19th and Woodbine) because they grow the strawberries right there in their fields…you can’t get fresher than that!
I do know that their “pick your own” is closed now but they may still sell flats (not for long, however). Once they stop selling strawberries, I head over to Round the Bend Farms who carry flats of strawberries all summer long (they get them from all over Ontario from farms that grow everbearing berries – different varieties that produce throughout the summer).
It was Sue at Round the Bend that gave me a lesson in Ontario goodness. She told me that it is best for us to eat locally #1. because we support our local farmers who work really hard #2. because you will get optimum nutrition from fruit that is harvested as close to home as possible and #3. you won’t have to worry about bad farming practices across the US and afar that could potentially make us very, very sick. She is a wealth of information so, if you stop by her farm, ask her some questions and let her make you smart!!
And, if you would like to taste that summer goodness all year long (even in the dead of winter), go make friends with your local berry farmer, grab a few flats and get freezing. They are as sweet as candy and I swear, you will thank me mid-February that you did this!
1. Take your strawberries from the baskets and lay them flat. You can choose how to clean them.
*As a chef, we were taught to NEVER wash strawberries because they are like sponges and they will absorb any water you use and then they will become tasteless [we were told to simply brush the dirt from them with a soft bush]….but there was a bacteria scare a few years back where many people became very sick from e-coli infested berries so now I don’t take a chance).
I fill my kitchen sink with very cold water and take a handful at a time and swish them through and then lay them on a clean dish towel.
2. I then pull off the stem and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
3. Now, put the tray into the freezer (this is called IQF or individually quick frozen) and they will freeze up nicely (they can be touching but not overlapping).
4. Once they are frozen solid, you can pop them into large Ziploc bags and keep them in your freezer to use in smoothies, or your breakfast in a jar or cook them down with a touch of sugar to serve with a really nice pound cake.
Now don’t you feel better about yourself? You are ready to fill your tummy with vitamin-dense berry goodness all while helping to support the farmers who work so hard to keep you healthy…
You’re so awesome!