In the great state of Georgia, strawberry season can stretch from late April to July 4, and did you know, they’re the first fruit to ripen each spring?
Growing up, after a hearty dinner, my mom would always serve freshly baked pound cake on her blue and white china. The cake was served with a heaping pillowy dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a pile of macerated strawberries. I never had a chance not to love them.
I can’t wait to visit my local farmers market this season to bring home a gallon-sized bucket full of these red-ripened vibrant gems. There are also many “you pick” farms that make for a fun Saturday outing with the family. Best eaten right away, strawberries do require an extra bit of care and safe keeping. When stored properly, strawberries will stay fresh and firm for about a week. Keep them dry and cold in the refrigerator. Some tips to consider:
• Don’t pre-wash your strawberries. Moisture is the enemy and will cause the berries to soften and encourage mold growth.
• Leave the stems on to help protect the interior and prolong shelf life.
• Keep strawberries in a single layer. They will keep best if they are not crushed and crowded.
One of my favorite ways to use them up is by making my Strawberry-Basil Sauce. Luscious and sweet, oozing with strawberry flavor, I pick fresh basil from my garden, and with a hint of lemon juice, the sauce comes together in minutes and can be used in desserts, grilled meats and even cocktails. The cornstarch helps the sauce to thicken, resulting in a velvety smooth finish, while the acidity from the lemon juice cuts the sweetness slightly, balancing the flavors.
Delectable over grilled meats, the sauce is sure to take your dinner from simple to Some Kinda Good. I’ve served it in an angel food cake trifle layered with fresh whipped cream for Memorial Day, and even as a drizzle over grilled chicken.
Here are a few other ideas on how to use it:
• Pour it over cold vanilla ice cream
• Add rum and make a strawberry daiquiri
• Dress up a strawberry shortcake
• Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for a flavorful addition to any drink.
Enjoy and Happy Strawberry Season!
Some Kinda Good Strawberry-Basil Sauce
- 4 pints or 1/2 gallon of fresh strawberries, hulled and washed
- 1 cup sugar
- Slurry: 1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tsp. water
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 6 leaves of fresh basil
- Pinch of kosher salt
Place strawberries and sugar in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Add cornstarch slurry and reduce temperature to medium-low. Allow the sauce to cook and thicken for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Carefully pour the sauce into a food processor or blender, adding lemon juice, zest, salt and basil. Pulse to desired consistency.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter.
To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.