Well, everything truly does seem to be happening a bit earlier this year. We have just heard that the strawberries are just about ready at the local berry farms. Right now Erickson’s Orchard & Country Store has a limited quantity of ready-picked strawberries available for purchase. This is about two weeks ahead of schedule, but we certainly don’t mind. There is something so especially delicious about eating fruit that was just picked locally!
We talk about cooking with local foods all the time, and how easy it is. We’d like to utilize our blog a bit more to share with you ideas to help you do more in your own kitchens. We make it a point to buy as many fresh local berries as we can while they are in season. We have a couple of extra freezers to store these scrumptious treats year round. Berries are actually quite easy to freeze, but how you do it really does make a difference in how long they will last.
We are quite lucky at Pinehurst that my father (Steve) loves the process of cleaning and cutting berries for freezing. He also does this with potatoes, peppers and other produce. He finds it quite relaxing and reminds him of his childhood. This is a good thing as I don’t think the women in our family feel quite that way about it. Here’s a link to some very simple and good instructions on freezing strawberries: http://www.pickyourown.org/strawberries_freezing.htm. The most important step of this process is draining the cleaned berries of as much moisture as possible.
So, what can you do with these berries? Of course, the very best part about buying local berries is picking them directly from the flats and eating them! But, alas we can’t always do that. Here are two recipes that we serve quite frequently at Pinehurst Inn:
This is a really easy one: Take some fresh Bayfield strawberries, and quarter them. Then take some plain yogurt and add a touch of maple syrup and vanilla extract (just enough to flavor as you like). Layer the strawberries and yogurt with your favorite granola and enjoy!
Strawberry (or any berry) Muffins:
1½ cups flour
½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling (divided)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted
1½ cups strawberries (or a combination of berries of your choice)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cups of muffin tin.
In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, milk and butter; mix. Fold in berries of choice. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling each about 1/2-3/4 full. If you want larger muffins this recipe will only yield about 9 muffins. Sprinkle a bit of sugar over top of each muffin before baking for a crispy top. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. NOTE: If you use frozen berries you may need to bake these a bit longer, but watch the tops of the muffins so they don’t over-brown or dry out.
Enjoy berry season year round! Print out this recipe: Any Berry Muffins.