Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Berry of the Month - June

Fresh-picked, red, ripe strawberries are one of my fondest memories of summers. They are also probably one of my most vivid childhood memories.

I think I've mentioned before that I come from a long line of berrry pickers. It's a Scandinavian thing. My parents would take us up to the Snohomish River Valley in June to pick strawberries, for my mom to make jam. My brother was eight years older than me, so he was probably more helpful. I would basically sit in the field and stuff my face full of berries. My parents have always joked that the farmers wanted to weigh me when we arrived and weigh me when I left. I ate that many berries.

We've had the driest and warmest June in Seattle that I can remember. The conditions have been perfect for strawberries.

Last weekend, my dad and I went for a drive up to Arlington to visit a strawberry farm. My mom still makes jam, and I sometimes do too. This year though, I've had my sights set on strawberry ice cream, strawberry fruit leather and fresh strawberries on poundcake. I needed a lot of berries.

Strawberries are tough little buggers to pick. I wasn't about to plop myself down in the field, like I did as a child, so we just bought two flats of berries.

Nothing really compares to just-picked strawberries on a sunny, summer afternoon. The heady smell, deep red flesh and incredible juiciness are such a treat. In the long, dark days of winter I am often tempted by the strawberries at the supermarket that have been trucked in from thousands of miles away. They are like the empty shell of themselves though - tough flesh that is still white around the core. Bland flavor. I always regret the purchase.

The last couple of days have been a blur of strawberry-stained cooking. Ice cream - check. Fruit leather - check. Poundcake with berries and cream - check. I probably should have weighed myself going. I've eaten THAT many berries.

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