Saturday, May 7, 2011

Strawberry Pickin' Day

When the strawberry farms tell us it is time to pick our own, Greg and I are usually the first people out there, the minute they open on a Saturday morning.  We drive out to a part of Virginia Beach that is still country, good old Pungo.  Pungo has an annual Strawberry Festival.  We attended the festival one time and vowed never to return.  Too crowded, too hard to park and unpark, just too much.  We have yet to go to the Peanut Festival in nearby Suffolk and we have lived here for 11 years.  I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Peanut and should probably go to the Peanut Festival at least once.  I'll put that on my bucket list, right after "learn to speak Spanish."

So today is Strawberry Pickin' Day.  I had a hair appointment this morning, and Greg was helping a friend decide if his bathtub is cracked, so we didn't get out to Pungo at our  normal early hour.  We didn't get out to Pungo at all.  We drove down the street about 2 miles to a little farm stand and bought 5 things of strawberries.  I don't know how big the things are - a pint or a quart or something.  You can see them in the picture.  We also bought some fresh-picked asparagus, which I will roast to go with dinner tonight.  Yum.

Locally grown strawberries and asparagus
 Then we went to the grocery store to buy ice cream and whipping cream and some kind of cake-like item to put the strawberries over.  We usually buy the little spongecake cups; last year they came in chocolate too.  We discussed the possibility that there would be no little cakes at the grocery store, much less chocolate ones.  Greg said his mom always served strawberry shortcake over big Bisquik biscuits.  I said yes, and I could never stand that.  I told him I realized he grew up eating strawberry shortcake that way, and I grew up having it over pound cake, or the little spongecake cups, so I understood how you get attached to a childhood favorite.  I offered to make a sponge cake, even a chocolate one, but in the end we just went to the store.  We bought a pack of the little spongecake cups, and a pack of little angelfood cakes for me. 

Greg has been working like a lumberjack all morning.  When we got home with the strawberry haul, he wandered off to take a nap.  I got started getting all these strawberries organized.  First, I made some chocolate-covered ones.  I just picked some big berries, and melted some Ghirardelli chips in the microwave, and went to work.  Look!

Guess how many are left?
After making the chocolate covered strawberries, it was time to make strawberry shortcake sauce.  I filled a big bowl with water and put the strawberries in it, to rinse off any bugs.  One bee and two inchworms came off, and I hope that was all of them.  Sadly, they died, and I feel guilty about that.

Years ago, one fine evening when I served strawberry shortcake to my father-in-law, he went off on a rant about how there's never enough sauce.  Not just  my sauce, nobody made sauce right.  There's just never enough juice and the berry-to-juice ratio is always wrong Wrong WRONG.  My usual method was to clean the strawberries, slice them into a big bowl, and sprinkle sugar all over them, stirring them occasionally until a sauce formed.  To my knowledge, that was the accepted way.  After his dad's rant, Greg and I decided we were going to make the sauciest strawberry shortcake sauce the world has ever known.  Our first attempt was a winner.  We sliced half of the strawberries, and put the other half in a blender, pureed them, and poured them over the sliced berries.  Over time I've perfected this method and now when I puree the strawberries, I add a cup of simple syrup.  Luscious, plenty of sauce, never any complaints.

Oh, anyway, after washing all the strawberries I laid them out on clean towels on the counter, dried them pretty well, and got to work cleaning them.  Really dark ones went into the blender.  Pureeing them makes kind of a light pink colored sauce so I try to use the darkest ones to get a darker sauce, because I think it's prettier.

Beautiful clean strawberries
 While I was prepping the strawberries I made a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water, over a low heat until the sugar dissolved.  That needs to cool down before I can make the sauce.

When I had cleaned most of the berries, and had a blender full and a big bowl full, I put the remaining berries on a sheet pan and they are in the freezer.  They will go into a plastic bag and be used in a future recipe.  I love that there is no waste with this purchase.  The strawberries will be eaten, the tops will go into the compost, the little blue pints or quarts or whatever are biodegradable so I can use them in the garden. 

Nothing is wasted
There is a skylight right over the counter where I usually take pictures.  The sunlight on the sliced strawberries makes them look like orange peppers.  Just as a little reminder, this is not a photography blog.  We have two digital cameras; one of them, the battery is always dead soon after I recharge it; the other one, I somehow turned off the flash and don't know how to make it come back.  The manual is around here someplace (note to bucket list: learn how to turn the flash on and off).

Puree the strawberries and simple syrup
Now comes the fun part. Put about 1/4 a cup of the simple syrup over the sliced strawberries and stir; put the rest of the simple syrup into the blender. Puree the strawberries, and pour over the sliced strawberries. (Helpful Hint:  Make damn sure the bottom is screwed onto the blender correctly.  I wasted a bunch of time cleaning up the blender and the countertop after I blended the strawberries.)

Stir, taste, swoon. These will sit in the fridge until time for dessert tonight, and the berries will soak up a little of the sauce while they sit there.
Saucy enough?


  1. I love the sauce/strawberries combo, that's what I had as a child. Jim only had sliced strawberries.

    Both were served over angel food cake. The best cake to soak up the sauce!

    I also think the darker berries make the best sauce.

  2. Karyn,
    I think you are so lucky to be able to pick such beautiful Strawberry's. All we have are Walmart ones. My little granddaughter would love you, she could eat them everyday. Thank you for sharing. The hubby and I was just talking about Virginia Beach. When is your hurricane season and what is there to do there besides pick Strawberry's?

  3. Yowzer! Sounds delicious!

  4. Can you tell me what simple syrup is? Abd where I can get it? This looks wonderful!!!

  5. April, look right under the 3rd picture for the way to make simple syrup. :)

  6. Path Traveled: Our hurricane season is June through November. There are a million things to do here - it's a beach town. Williamsburg is about 50 miles away, and Kings Dominion; depending on what you like to do, I'm sure you can do it here!

  7. You kill me...

    Add getting to Karyn's house someday to the bucket list :).

  8. Yum, that looks so good. Strawberries are so tasty and healthy!

  9. Thanks Karyn think I missed that do to my screaming toddler darn it lol.Someone at starbucks explained the general idea to me yesterday then asked for your recipe :)April

  10. Karyn, I haven't read it all yet BUT I know a spoiled bunny who would help you with the tops :>)

  11. Hey, Karyn, have you ever used lemon or balsamic vinegar in with strawberries? Sounds a little odd. Really, it's amazing. Something about the acidity and sweet strawberries...
    Came in to bookmark your recipe and got a bit caught up xx
    Emma (Black Cat)

  12. Emma I haven't used that in this particular sauce, but I have had strawberries with balsamic. SO good!