Archive for Wednesday, May 27, 1998

STRAWBERRY ECSTASY: SEEING RED IS A SIGN FROM HEAVEN ABOVE

May 27, 1998

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For the next several weeks, the strawberries in your supermarket's produce department will be at their freshest and most flavorful. These are the imports, trucked in from Texas and other places where the season runs ahead of ours.

When strawberries are in season, you'll also find them priced as specials, particularly in larger quantities, such as the half flat, which holds six pints. When you buy strawberries in bulk you can make jams and sauces and feed dessert to the masses.

What's good now will only get better. You'll now be able to harvest strawberries locally. Growers have started opening up their fields for u-pick-'em business. In years of bounty they advertise the beginning of the picking season but when yields are light, they don't.

For this reason the strawberry devotees in this area know to watch for signs near the farms and to call the growers, most of whom have recorded messages announcing the strawberry-picking forecast.

If you don't know where any of the farms are, the Douglas County Extension office (843-7058) maintains a list of growers who are active this year. Depending on your degree of strawberry fanaticism, you may want to ask for more than just the location of the farm nearest you.

That's because the season often varies from the farms south of Lawrence to those north of town and near Perry. In many years you can actually extend your picking season by following the harvest around the area.

If all this strawberry strategizing sounds excessive, you'd be miserable at my house, where strawberries are a daily ritual this time of year. We invariably find that strawberries go out of season before we tire of them.

I was delighted to learn over the weekend that a squirt of honey into a bowl of sliced but tart strawberries will both sweeten and moisten up the fruit. I'd always resorted to powdered sugar.

When you prepare strawberries, remember to rinse them thoroughly under running water. Because strawberries are so susceptible to disease, mold and bugs, large commercial growers tend to go heavy on the chemicals.

The June issue of Cooking Light magazine has a section on strawberry desserts that caught my eye. Of particular interest was the following recipe, which offers an alternative to the spongy, packaged shortcakes that are stacked this time of year next to the strawberry display in the grocery store.

Made with margarine and the low-fat, low-cal ingredients listed here, each of the six servings contains 270 calories, 24 percent of them from fat.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

3re strawberries are a daily ritual this time of year. We invariably find that strawberries go out of season before we tire of them.

I was delighted to learn over the weekend that a squirt of honey into a bowl of sliced but tart strawberries will both sweeten and moisten up the fruit. I'd always resorted to plow-fat buttermilk

Cooking spray

6 tablespoons reduced-calorie frozen whipped topping, thawed

Whole strawberries for garnish (optional)

Combine 1 cup strawberry halves, e commercial growers tend to go heavy on the chemicals.

The June issue of Cooking Light magazine has a section on strawberry desserts that caught my eye. Of particular interest was the following recipe, which offers an alternative to the spongy, packaged shortcakes that are stacked this time of year next to the strawberry display in the grocery store.

Made with margarine and the low-fat, low-cal ingredients listed here, each of the six servings contains 270 calories, 24 percent of them from fat.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

3re strawberries are a daily ritual this time of year. We invariably find that strawberries go out of season before we tire of them.

I was delighted to learn over the weekend that a squirt of honey into a bowl of sliced but tart strawberries will both sweeten and moisten up the fruit. I'd always resorted to pover each bottom half. Top with shortcake tops and whipped topping on each and garnish with whole strawberries.

-- When she's not writing about foods and gardening, Gwyn Mellinger is teaching journalism at Baker University. You can send e-mail to her at living

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