There’s Nothing Like In-Season Local Strawberries
One bite into the local in-season strawberries, I’ve decided I cannot go back to the imported- California strawberries. As with any fruit, sugar content and sweetness increases as the strawberry ripens. The moment a strawberry is picked, it stops ripening. California strawberries are picked before they’re ripe so that they last the long trip to Canada without going mouldy. That’s the reason they remain hard and bland tasting.
This time of the year fresh, perfectly ripened Ontario strawberries are plentiful and inexpensive. I found 1 quart of Ontario strawberries (grown in Vineland) for $2.99 at my local City Market Loblaws. With a bright red interior oozing sweet juices (not like those hard, bland, anemic-looking California strawberries we import in the winter), local in-season strawberries are only available for a few short months of the year, we should seize the opportunity and feature it in as many dishes as we possibly can.
Because local strawberries don’t have to travel far to reach market, they can be picked at the peak of ripeness (and sweetness) and still have ample time to reach your local farmers market or supermarket.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium and antioxidants. Surprisingly strawberries are one of the highest water-containing fruits being 92% water and has a low-glycemic rating on the glycemic index. Strawberries can help hydrate and at the same time banish the bloat from water retention. Since it has a lower-glycemic impact than over fruits, strawberries are more suitable for diabetics are those who are watching their sugar intake or waistline.
Strawberries The Perfect Summer Dessert
Local, ripened strawberries are so sweet and juicy they make a great dessert without any other accompaniment.
However if you’d like to take the taste of strawberries up a notch or make a fancier dessert for a dinner party I have two suggestions. Both are so simple you need just 1 or 2 ingredients.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Almonds and Buttercrunch, Sea Salt Cocao Nibs and Coconut
1. Sophisticated Strawberries
As simple and sophisticated as it gets with strawberries! This a treat that satisfies both your sweets and alcohol craving.
- 2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half or quarters,
- 3 tbsp. Grand Marnier
- 1 tsp. sugar or sugar substitute (e.g. stevia, xylitol or erythritol, Lakanto (zero calorie sweetener made with monkfruit a.k.a Luo Han)
- Mint leaves, optional
- Mix strawberries and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. It may be necessary to add a wee bit sugar if the strawberries are not sweet enough. Let the strawberries sit at room temperature for several hour .Stir periodically. Top with a few mint leaves before serving.
2. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (covered in coconut shreds, almond buttercrunch and sea salt cocao nibs)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- Ingredients for coating chocolate covered strawberries. E.g. slivered almonds, coconut shreds, cacao nibs
I picked slivered almonds and butter crunch (Skor bits from Bulk Barn) which reminds me of a candy called Almond Roca from Washington State I used to eat growing up in the west coast (from Washington State).
Top notch chocolatiers in Toronto such as Soma are making single-source, high percentage cocoa chocolate bars topped with cocoa nibs and sea salt. I’m loving the sweet-salty trend in dessert and tried cocoa nibs and sea salt as coating ingredients on my chocolate covered strawberries – magnificent! Cacao nibs are basically 100% cacao without the sugar, so eating them on their own may taste too bitter for most people’s liking. However when combined with dark chocolate, sweet strawberries and juxtaposed with sea salt, the intense chocolate flavour of cacao nibs comes through without any bitterness. The crunch of cacao nibs is nice with the plump juiciness of ripe strawberries.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Dry strawberries well with paper towels to make sure chocolate adheres perfectly.
- Set up your coating ingredients e.g. slivered almonds, coconut shreds etc. in separate bowls.
- Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave until melted, do this in small increments of time e.g. 15 seconds at a time to avoid burning the chocolate. After each 15 second interval, stir the chocolate with a fork, if it needs more time than microwave for another 15 seconds. The chocolate should be melted by three or four 15 second intervals.
- Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, making sure the strawberry is covered almost to the stem.
- Work quickly – spoon some coating ingredient e.g. slivered almonds onto the chocolate dipped strawberries, rotate the strawberries so that it’s completely covered with coating ingredient. Do this over a plate to catch the dripping chocolate and coating ingredients that fall off.
- Place covered strawberry onto parchment lined baking sheet and place into the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.