Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Plump, juicy and delicious, Jersey Fresh strawberries will soon be found at local farm markets, community farmers markets and pick-your-own farms. Harvesting of the popular spring crop began this week and should continue through early June.
“Strawberries are grown on 300 acres by New Jersey farm families, so by purchasing this tasty fruit, people help support and sustain the state’s agriculture industry,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “Strawberries also are a part of a healthy diet, providing an excellent source of vitamin C.”
Look for strawberries that are plump and firm with a bright red color and natural shine. The size of the berry is not important; the color of the berry and the fragrance are the best indicators of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid strawberries with green or white color, or those that appear mushy, shriveled or leaky. Strawberries do not ripen after harvest, so they should be immediately stored in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption time as possible.
When purchasing, check the carton for stains, which indicate over-ripeness. Remove the strawberries from the market or store container. Store in a shallow container on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a shallow container is not feasible, put paper towels between the layers. Remove from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature for optimum flavor.
Do not wash strawberries until ready to eat because their high water content, on top of the additional water, will result in a mushy berry. Once the caps are removed, an enzyme is released that destroys the vitamin C. Be certain to remove the caps after rinsing to prevent the strawberry from becoming waterlogged and from losing vitamin C content.
While delicious in baked goods, strawberries are tasty raw, especially when served with liqueur or when dipped in chocolate. Preserve as a jam, or easily freeze by coating in a water and lemon juice mix.
New Jersey produced 1.4 million pounds of strawberries valued at $3 million in 2007. To find Jersey Fresh strawberries and other Jersey Fresh products at farm markets or pick-your-own farms, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
Following are recipes for strawberries, found in “Jersey Fresh Cooks,” a cookbook prepared in 2001 for the Department of Agriculture through residents’ submissions.
2 cups sifted flour
¾ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 large Jersey Fresh egg
3 tsp baking powder
3 TBS granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
Jersey Fresh strawberries
Sift flour, then add baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift into bowl. Mix ½ cup shortening with pastry blender in flour until mixture is the consistency of coarse oatmeal. Beat 1 egg well in small bowl and add 2/3 cup milk. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Pour in egg and milk and with a fork, mix with flour, slowly at first, then rapidly and vigorously until soft dough is formed. If you want individual shortcakes, drop heaping tablespoonfuls 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet. Shape round with spoon or spatula. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is an even brown. Split while hot, butter, then fill and top with berries. Serve with cream, plain or whipped. Serves 6.
Contributed by: Gerrie Neff, Pine Brook, NJ
Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 quart Jersey Fresh strawberries, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup water
1½ TBS cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 baked pie shell
Combine 1 cup strawberries, hulled, with ¾ cup of the sugar and 1 cup of water. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and mash. Mix cornstarch and remaining sugar and salt. Add to mashed strawberries and stir well. Cook until thickened, stirring all the while. Cool. Place remaining whole strawberries, with hulls removed, in pie shell, point side of berries up. Pour glaze over all, chill and serve with whipped cream or soft ice cream.
Contributed by: Thomas Begoss, Randolph, NJ