Thursday, May 3, 2012

Let's Talk Fruit - Belgian Strawberries

Strawberries... yes it's becoming that time of year. The first batches of these wonderful little pieces of naturally gluten free sweetness have hit the selves of our local fruit stands and supermarkets!

I think already I've bought at least a dozen containers and I know I'll buy at least another 50 before the season is done. They are not at their peek yet but they are pretty damn good considering for the last weeks we have hardly seen the sun and the temps don't hardly go above 60f.

Now why do I have a post specially on 'Belgian' strawberries? That is simple! I'm american, I have always grown up with these ultra dark large strawberries. You know the kind... the 'bigger the better' types that typically look as dark as a brick house and you can only guess if they will be a bit sweet or sour. And dare they have any parts of green on them, most Americans would shun away from them because that tells them it's going to be even a bit sour. Yes those... those are the strawberries most Americans know.

Now if you have ever had a chance to have Belgian strawberries, you will NEVER want to turn back to those horrid little almost pre-coloured looking things you were use to. These little treasures are going to be 99% sweet if you know how to pick them out. Picking them out is not rocket science as it is with the ones sold in America. As long as these beauties have a roundish look to them, a medium size (very rarely are these ever 'large' like you might find in the American versions) and do not have green bottoms, you are almost sure you will have a good batch.

These strawberries will be and almost always are a pale red but can be a bright red when they are in their perfect peek season. Then they are the best you can get and are sold at under 2 euro a package.

Remember, all fruits are naturally gluten free and I promise if done right, will freeze VERY well if you want to save these for cooking and baking later in the year when the season is done and the cold nip is back in the year.

Strawberries are easy to freeze... I would suggest though that you do not freeze them for just eating plain as you might from a fresh bought container. Once frozen they change texture a bit and although they are just as good for eating, they won't give you the satisfaction that the fresh unfrozen version will. Instead freeze them for uses in such things as fresh smoothies and other desserts what will meld the strawberries into it. You'll get the wonderful sweetness and taste without noticing the texture change.

Freezing can be done in 2 ways. You can of course pre-cut them, removing the hauls and stems or you can just place the whole berry in there but I personally like to take the time to at least remove the hauls. I would suggest not doing more then a half cut strawberry if you choose to cut them before freezing and whole is even better. You can leave them unwashed for much easier freezing or if you wish to wash them first, simply lay them out in a single layer on paper towels and let completely dry. Place them in FREEZER BAGS first and if you want to have an extra layer of protection, then place them in a container meant for the freezer. This will ensure they will not get frost bitten before one wants to use them. These will keep nicely if done right and not rushed in the beginning for any where from 6 months to a year in the freezer. Perfect to make something wonderfully fruity such as warm strawberry compote for ice cream on some windy/rainy fall evening or cutting up after thawed to add to some home-made apple sauce!

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