Berry Beautiful

Kentucky Strawberries

Kentucky Strawberries

Kentucky strawberries this spring could hardly have been more delicious. They came early, so the season is coming to a close a bit early, too. Still, I ate more berries than I can ever remember, particularly from Elmwood Stock Farm in Scott County, Home Pickins in Jackson County, and Wilson Farm in (maybe) Bourbon County.

I wish I had seen this article on Tips for refrigerating and freezing those delicate strawberries before strawberry season this year. I know not to wash them until eating, and not to refrigerate in their boxes. I did not know there is a way they can be refrigerated successfully for a day or so, as this article suggests.

For the first time as a grownup, I froze strawberries this year, 24 quarts so far. With one helper for the last 45 minutes, it took less than three hours to cap them, mash/squeeze them with a bit of sugar, stow them in 39 pint freezer bags, and clean up. That's a bearable investment of time in stretching the local fruit season and continuing to benefit from the intense, beautiful flavors of Kentucky berries.

Tip-of-the-berry hat to Trudie Reed of Reed Valley Orchard for emphasizing how mashing strawberries for freezing releases their deep flavor much better than slicing them. Not to mention that slicing is tedious, time-consuming, and ultimately disappointing visually, because the slices look limp and a bit drained of color after freezing and thawing.

The flavor virtues that came from mashing stuck in my mind and led me to look for ways to serve strawberries to guests who came to town for a certain wedding last weekend. This happy event attracted loved ones from all compass points to the Bluegrass, giving us excuses for cooking and hosting. One hit: Chilled Strawberry Wedding Soup.