This red fruit, which is a member of the rose family, grows in every province in Canada. It is often the first fresh fruit to hit farmers’ markets across Alberta, but some varieties of strawberries will bloom until the ground freezes. While these berries are often lauded for their high vitamin C content (one cup of sliced strawberries has more than one-and-a-half times the daily recommended amount), they are also delicious and versatile, and can be eaten fresh, frozen, or in jam or jelly form.
Strawberry Fields Forever?
Every year, Monica Turta, owner of Rainbow Acres, plants between 3,000 and 6,000 strawberry plants. Rainbow Acres, which is located between Calmar and Devon, produces several varieties of strawberries, including June bearing and day neutral, which can flower and bloom continuously, as the hours of sunshine they receive do not affect them (as it does with other varieties of strawberries).
Strawberry plants are perennial, meaning they will bloom for at least two seasons. Rainbow Acres practices a four-year rotation in its fields – it will plant one year, then pick from that particular plant for three years before discarding it.
Evoolution carries a strawberry dark balsamic vinegar. It is flavoured by blending a rich, 18-year-old dark traditional balsamic with the essence of strawberry. “It’s one of the flavours we’ve carried since we opened, and it’s very popular,” says Curtis Savage, co-owner of Evoolution. He recommends pairing the strawberry dark balsamic vinegar with a basil-infused extra virgin olive oil to make vinaigrette for salads. “It also goes nicely with our Eureka Lemon olive oil if you’re looking for a fruitier combination,” he adds.
For dessert, reduce the strawberry dark balsamic vinegar by half, allow it to cool and drizzle it over ice cream or fresh fruit. Sarah Radloff, chef and owner of Careit Urban Deli, uses local strawberries to make a compote that’s paired with chocolate mousse. “It’s almost like a jam. I take fresh strawberries, sugar and water, and thicken it with corn starch.”
Sizing Up the Berry
When it comes to the different varieties of strawberries, there is a difference in taste, says Turta. “The day neutral is much more firm and holds longer. Its shelf life is longer. But, in my opinion, the June bearing has much more flavour.”
There are plenty of you-pick operations in the Edmonton area that allow you to pile your own berries into a bucket. But, if picking doesn’t appeal to you, most farms will also sell already-picked berries either onsite or at farmers’ markets. Rainbow Acres doesn’t allow customers to pick their own berries. Instead, Turta brings her berries (both fresh and frozen) to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.
Good Grips fruit and vegetable slicer, from Call the Kettle Black. Use this handy gadget to cut down on prep time and avoid knife injuries when slicing strawberries over vanilla ice cream. Simply put the berry in, press down and voila! You have six thinly sliced pieces of strawberry – and all of your fingers intact.
Did You Know …
There is a museum in Wpion, Belgium, dedicated entirely to the history of the strawberry.
Unlike other fruits, strawberries have their seeds on the outside, not the inside.
Legend has it that French socialite Madame Thrsa Tallien, born in the 18th century, would often bathe in the juice of fresh strawberries for their healing properties.
Fresh or fully dried strawberry leaves can be used to make an herbal tea. Leaves that are in the process of drying release chemicals that can be irritating to humans.
Strawberry rhubarb fruit leather
This tasty treat is adapted from a recipe by Karlynn Johnston of Edmonton’s The Kitchen Magpie. It only requires three ingredients, and is easy to make – like fruit roll-ups for adults, but better.
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups of chopped strawberries
2 – 3 tbsp honey
1. Quickly blanch the rhubarb in the microwave.
2. Using a food processor, puree strawberries and rhubarb together.
3. Add the honey to the mixture. Adjust the amount according to the level of sweetness you want.
4. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap. Spread the puree to a quarter-inch thickness on the sheet, ensuring that there is plastic wrap all the way around the edge of your sheet.
5. Dry the puree in the oven at 65?C for six to eight hours. When the leather peels away from the wrap and is slightly tacky when you touch it (without your finger leaving a mark), it is done.
6. Roll it up in the plastic and cut it into smaller strips. Then store it in the fridge for up to one month.