Here in our neck of the woods, it’s nearly strawberry season. Several farmers we follow on social media have been posting updates with pictures of their fields, nearly ripe and ready for the pickin’.
Pictured: Top left: Oak Grove Farms Find them on Facebook here
Bottom left: Cooper Creek Find them on Facebook here
Right: Bradley Kountry Acres Find them on Facebook here
It’s pretty rare when we don’t have local berries in by the first week of May. I used to grow my own right here at home, but I haven’t grown any in a few years. You have to get out there and pick them before the birds do each morning, and keeping the dogs from hogging them all is a task, too.
I saw some good looking berries at the grocery store the other day, so I bought some to tide me over until the local ones are available. I was washing and cutting them yesterday, and my thoughts instantly flooded with memories of my Grandma. My Grandma loved strawberries, probably as much as I do. When I was little, she always had those round, yellow spongecakes in her kitchen. You know, the store-bought, packaged ones like this, with the little indentation for holding berries and cream.
And Grandma always had a bag of strawberry gel, sort of like a pie filling, to mix with her berries and put on her spongecake. I can’t remember a single time I opened her refrigerator and didn’t see that strawberry goo sitting on a shelf. I didn’t care much for it.
When I cut my own berries, I always remember how Grandma washed and cut hers. She had a large, lime green tupperware bowl with a clear lid that was the strawberry bowl. First, you filled it with cold water, and then you dumped the berries in to soak. You might dump the dirty water and soak once more. Once the berries were clean, you emptied the bowl, sliced the berries in your hand and dropped them into the same green tupperware bowl. When the bowl was full, Grandma would sprinkle a good helping of sugar over the berries and mix them up. I think she poured at least a cup of sugar on those berries, even though they didn’t need it. Grandma liked sweets, and I get that honest from her. The sugared berries would develop a syrup after a few hours and we all loved to scoop it out onto those spongecakes and top if off with some whipped cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about the deliciousness! It was always the dish Grandma brought to my Mom’s for the July 4th gathering. Sure wish Grandma was still here to enjoy some berries with.
Pictured above: me, Grandma Lucille Cox, and my sister at Grandma’s house years ago
I also think about my Aunt Sherry whenever I’m picking strawberries. We used to spend a lot of time staying over at my Aunt Sherry’s farm when we were growing up. She had strawberry fields and always let us do the picking, so we could make pies.
I remember she would get on us for eating so many right from the field, that there wouldn’t be enough ripe ones for pies. There is nothing like a cool piece of strawberry pie, with fresh, local berries, topped with homemade whipped cream!
Some of my own homemade pies
When I lived in Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley, there was a famous, mile-high strawberry pie everyone loved from the old Hess Brothers department store. I found the recipe online years ago, and you can do a Google search and find several variations. I make a version similar to this one: Hess’s Mile-High Strawberry Pie Recipe
I also love this recipe for a fresh strawberry cake. Strawberry Yogurt Cake Recipe I make it in a heart-shaped bundt pan, as seen below. It is a another delicious way to use fresh berries.
A few tips, I use two cups of berries instead of one. And I used plain old yogurt, not Greek. This made enough batter for two full bundt cakes, not one. And mine both cooked in 40 minutes at 325 degrees, not 60 minutes. Go out and use your berries for this delicious cake!
If you love strawberries (and dessert for that matter), you will find lots of other recipes I love on my Pinterest page here: Dessert First .
It won’t be long now until we can get our hands on some fresh, local strawberries and start making some new memories.