Ed Vielmetti is our Paul Revere of Michigan strawberries, and they are coming early in 2012. The Ann Arbor area is usually the first in Michigan to see ripe berries, and Ed says that ‘U-Pick’ strawberries are coming this weekend in SE Michigan! Ed advises:
The pick-your-own strawberry season is short. Typically there are only three or four weeks when the berries in the fields are ripe enough to pick, and some years there are only two weekends when they are out in enough quantities where you can count on getting enough to freeze, turn into jam or prepare in quantities at reasonable prices.
While strawberries are not yet ready to pick in Northern Michigan, Taste the Local Difference has some great information about strawberries & their uses.
Strawberries are grown in every county of Michigan and your fun fact of the day is that 53% of seven to nine year olds say strawberries are their favorite fruit. Strawberries are high in iron and Vitamin C – Eight strawberries will provide 14% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids – and have less than 60 calories per cup. I recently read that you can mix strawberries and baking soda to form an at-home tooth whitening compound but you should probably read more about the ins and outs of DIY tooth whitening first.
The MDA’s Michigan Strawberries page has a ton of strawberry purchasing, growing and preparation info and some great strawberry lore, such as the fact that strawberries were a symbol of perfection and righteousness that medieval stone masons carved on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals and that:
In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and abundance of milk in return.
If you have some strawberries left over after tying them to the neighbor’s cow (and trying out the Strawberry Shortcake Recipe from Bad Bab’s Grandma), consider the recipe for Strawberry Sorbet after the jump!
Strawberry Sorbet (serves 6-8, courtesy Joy of Cooking/Taste the Local Difference)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
5 cups or 2 lbs. fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or other liqueur (optional)
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan, over low heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 3-5 minutes). Boil the mixture for one minute then remove from heat. Pour the sugar syrup into a heatproof container, and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled, about an hour or so.
Meanwhile, thaw the strawberries and then place the thawed strawberries in a food processor and process until the strawberries are pureed. Transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon juice and liqueur (if using), and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled. If using fresh strawberries, puree the berries in the food processor, transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon juice and liqueur (if using), and place in the refrigerator until chilled.
Once the simple syrup and pureed strawberries are completely chilled, combine the simple syrup with the pureed strawberries. Pour the mixture into a 8 inch or 9 inch stainless steel pan (sorbets will freeze faster in stainless steel), cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. When the sorbet is completely frozen (3 to 4 hours), remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature until partially thawed. Transfer the partially thawed sorbet to the food processor, and process to break up the large ice crystals that have formed on the sorbet. (This step is what gives the sorbet its wonderful fluffy texture.) Place the sorbet back into the pan and refreeze for at least three hours, and up to several days.
Note: If you taste the sorbet after freezing and find the amount of sugar is not right, adjust the level of sugar by adding a little sugar syrup (too little sugar in sorbet) or water (too much sugar in sorbet) and then refreeze the sorbet. The sorbet is not affected by thawing and refreezing.