Strawberries are members of the rose family. The berries are red, juicy, and conical shaped. Strawberries are heavy fruit for their size and there stems are very long coming off the bush. They are called strawberries because originally straw was put around and under the plant to prevent the berry from sitting directly on the soil- which would cause it to spoil rapidly. Strawberries are the only fruit that bear their seeds on the outside- almost 200 of them per fruit.
Strawberries were first cultivated in the 13th century by the Romans. The Massachusetts Indians introduced the 17th century settlers to the North American wild strawberry at Plymouth Colony. Strawberries prefer to be grown in temperate zones. The Massachusetts Indians introduced the 17th century settlers to the North American wild strawberry at Plymouth Colony. The American Colonist invented the dessert of Strawberry Shortcake. The most common variety is a wild Virginia strawberry, crossed with a Chilean variety. In Florida- we grow hybrid varieties- the most common ones being Oso Grand, Sweet Charlie, and Rosa Linda, and a few more.
In Florida, the largest production area for strawberries is located near Plant City, Florida, the central West coast of the state. That area is classified as the strawberry capital of the world. Florida Strawberries are considered winter berries- in season from Thanksgiving to Easter- peaking in crop production in Early March usually.
Today Strawberries are commercially grown over packed raised beds that are covered in plastic to ensure the berries don’t sit on the soil. You cannot grow a strawberry from seed. They must be started from a clipping, or runner of another plant.
Generally speaking, small berries are usually more flavorful than the giant berries. They are the best when plump, and firm, with even color and a gloss to the skin. They must be picked when ripe, because they do not ripen once picked. Today, all commercial berries are sold in plastic clamshell containers. In order to prevent over handling of the fruit- the pickers pack the clamshells in the field. From there, they are brought to chill rooms that contain blast chillers to immediately drop the temperature of the fruit down to preserve their freshness. Strawberries should be stored cold, about 32°F to 36°F and about 95% humidity.
Strawberries taste best at room temperature- so remove them from refrigeration about 30 minutes before you are ready to serve them
Fraise des bois is the Strawberries of the woods. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Strawberries also contain a high quantity of pectin- which is why it lends to easy jam and jelly making. (Strawberry jam is the number 2 preferred jam in the United States!)
Balsamic vinegar, especially with black pepper
Berries, especially blueberries and raspberries
Citrus, especially oranges, and lemons
Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, and Candied Pecans
Chef Jennifer Denlinger
Also Found on www.strawberrysue.com
12 oz mixed salad greens, or spinach, rinsed and dried thoroughly
6 tbsp crumbed Chevŕe (soft goat cheese) or feta cheese
6 tbsp Candied Pecans (see recipe for Candied Pecans)
½ cup Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette or as desired (see recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette)
12 large ripe Florida Strawberries, hulled and sliced or quartered
Thinly sliced red onion or Strawberry Onion- if desired
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¼# pecan pieces
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch kosher salt
Melt butter in a heavy bottom sauté pan over medium heat.Combine cinnamon, salt, and cayenne.When butter is bubbly and brown, add pecans.Stir to coat pecans evenly.Toast in butter for 1 minute. Add an equal amount of sugar to the spice mixture. While stirring, sprinkle ¼ of the spice mixture.Stir until mixture is absorbed.Continue to add white sugar, while stirring, until all sugar is added or pecans are completely coated.Place pecans, out on lined sheet tray and dry completely.Makes about 1 cup.
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup dark balsamic vinegar
1 cup Florida Strawberries, washed and hulled
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch granulated sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Place vinegar in a heavy bottomed non-reactive sauce pan and simmer over medium low heat until reduced to about ¼ cup.(Be careful not to let it burn). Place strawberries, vinegar reduction, sugar, salt and pepper into a blender.Puree until smooth.While the blender is running ,slowly drizzle in the olive oil until smooth.Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and sugar as desired.Makes about 2 ½ cups
In a large bowl put the salad greens. Season with salt and pepper. Add about ½ cup Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, or as desired. Toss to coat.
Distribute among chilled plates, if using or keep in bowl.
Sprinkle top with candied pecans, and onions, if using.
Place sliced strawberries on top, and sprinkle with goat cheese.
Serve extra vinaigrette on side.