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Superior strawberries tempt the tastebuds

Strawberry-Clementine Pie

Amy Brinkley/Lowes Foods Strawberry Clementine Pie pairs fruits that compliment each other.

Amy Brinkley/Lowes Foods Strawberry Clementine Pie pairs fruits that compliment each other.

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Strawberries are in, and they’re sweet, juicy and abundant. You can pick your own or you can spare your back and knees and buy them already picked at the Salisbury Farmers Market and at the individual farms, along with Patterson Farms’ satellite stations.

There is a small field on Bringle Ferry Road on the way to Dan Nicholas Park that was selling strawberries last Sunday.

Eagle Produce Farm, on Old Mocksville Road, has pre-picked strawberries and other produce at the farm, open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 704-239-0097 or 704-213-4926. Eagle is also at the Salisbury Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings and Saturday.

Elium Berry Farm at 2085 Bringle Ferry Road, offers pick your own berries for $10 per 4-quart box. Already picked, the cost is $13 per 4-quart box. It’s open all Saturdays in May from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and weekdays after 6:30 p.m. Call 704-636-2459 or 704-213-2661.

Patterson Farm will be picking strawberries through early June. The market at the farm is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 12:30-6 p.m. Strawberries from Patterson are also available at the Granite Quarry Market and in satellite locations on West Innes Street near Wells Fargo Bank and at Mr. C’s in Concord. Call 704-636-4005 or go to www.pattersonfarminc.com.

Wetmore Farms in Woodleaf has already picked strawberries at its market at 175 Farm Road, Woodleaf, one mile off N.C. 801. The hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 704-278-2028.

Miller Farm has strawberries at the Farmers Market, as well, as do Two Pigs Farm and Correll Farms.

Berries are superfoods, and strawberries, with their red color, are super duper. They rank in the top 10 of fruits and vegetables with antioxidant benefits. They are rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant.

A cup of strawberries has 50 calories, 1 gram of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates and almost 4 grams of fiber. They also contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and A and folate.

The antioxidants can reduce the risk of heart attack, particularly in women, according to a British study and one from Harvard.

Strawberries also have anti-inflammatory properties and can protect against the damage caused by LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Eating strawberries can prevent platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure. The fiber and potassium support heart health, and the anti-inflammatory properties can help with allergies and asthma. In fact, strawberries are amazing.

You can add strawberries to any salad, from simple greens to a chicken salad. They are delicious in a summer fruit salad of mixed berries. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar brings out even more flavor.

Add berries to plain yogurt, use them to top waffles, add to pancakes, top a bagel, for smoothies or a spring cooler – cut up strawberries and add to plain water or sparkling water.

I asked my Facebook friends how they like to eat strawberries, and most said plain, with no addition whatsoever. Several mentioned strawberry shortcake, which is pretty plain in itself, and pretty delicious. They suggested in daiquiris, sliced over cereal, dipped in powdered sugar, dipped in melted chocolate, in a crepe with Nutella, dipped in Nutella, in a smoothie, with vanilla ice cream or with pineapple and Cointreau (an orange liqueur) and ice cream, dipped in sour cream and brown sugar, with a sprinkling of sugar and orange zest, still warm from the sunshine. In other words, just hand them over right now.

Strawberry jam is not hard, especially for first-timers. Pureed strawberries can be topped off with sparkling wine, such as Proseco, for a delicious spring cocktail, something that would be just right for a bridal luncheon or shower or an evening by the grill.

To store strawberries, leave them whole and do not wash them until you’re ready to eat. Strawberries don’t last a long time, unlike blueberries or grapes. so be sure to eat them quickly or preserve them in some way. Freezing is easy. See Toi Degree’s column on this page.

Here’s an award-winning pie recipe that pairs the strawberries with an orange flavor, in this case, sweet clementines.

Strawberry-Clementine Pie

This sweet strawberry-clementine pie was a runner-up in the Local Flavor: Strawberry Recipe Contest presented by Lowes Foods.

By Mary Leverette, tested by Wendy Perry

Ingredients:

1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crumb crust

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

5 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

1 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup orange liqueur

3 Tbsp. light corn syrup

2 1/2 cups fresh Clementine or Mandarin sections

1 pint fresh North Carolina strawberries, halved or sliced

Directions:
 Blend softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spread in bottom of graham cracker crust. Place in refrigerator to chill. Mix cornstarch with remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and blend with orange juice and orange liqueur. Pour mixture into a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in remaining vanilla. Cool to room temperature and then add corn syrup, mixing well. Arrange orange sections on top of cream cheese and top with strawberries. Spoon orange glaze over fruit and chill for about 3 hours or until firm. Serves 6

Strawberry Trifle

From NPR

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

12 ounces whipped cream or Cool Whip

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 angel food cake

3 quarts fresh strawberries

1/4 cup sugar

Fresh mint

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy. Add whipped cream and vanilla. Cut angel food cake into small squares. Slice all but 3 or 4 strawberries. Gently mix sliced berries in bowl with 1/4 cup sugar; let sit for 15 minutes. Cover the bottom of a large trifle dish (clear, stemmed bowl) with a layer of the cake squares. Follow with a layer of cream cheese mixture, then strawberries. Alternate, ending with the cream cheese mixture on top. Garnish with reserved whole strawberries and mint leaves. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

There are probably thousands of strawberry jam recipes, but this is an easy one from a reliable source, Betty Crocker.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Ingredients

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries, cut in half

4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 package (1 3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
Mash strawberries with potato masher or in food processor until slightly chunky (not pureed) to make 2 cups crushed strawberries. Mix strawberries and sugar in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix water and pectin in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour hot pectin mixture over strawberry mixture; stir constantly 3 minutes.
Immediately spoon mixture into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of containers; seal. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours or until set. Store in freezer up to 6 months or in refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Thaw frozen jam and stir before serving.

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