So Sweet! May is National Strawberry Month

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You don’t have to wait until June’s Strawberry Fest to get ‘Berry’ happy

By Cathy BranciaroliFood Correspondent, the Times

These individual tartlets combine the best of spring strawberries with the tart taste of their spring partner, rhubarb. Photo courtesy of Annalise at Completely Delicious.

These individual tartlets combine the best of spring strawberries with the tart taste of their spring partner, rhubarb. Photo courtesy of Annalise at Completely Delicious.

May is National Strawberry month, when we celebrate the love of these juicy berries that inspire thoughts of warm sunny days. So don’t let this month pass by without treating the family to some delicious strawberry treats in advance of the Coatesville Strawberry Festival which takes place June 2-5..

While we wait for the weather to warm up and local produce from farmers markets to become available, Florida and California strawberries are on full display on grocery store shelves. According to the folks at Highland Orchards in West Chester, local strawberries will be available much later this year due mostly to cold weather. A first guess would have been that the culprit has been too much rain, but not so. The grower told me that they actually could use more rain right now. The Pick Your Own operation located at 1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Road will not be offering their berries till at least Memorial weekend and it would be best to call ahead at 610/269-3494.

It is worth the wait because there’s nothing like a basket of fresh, juicy strawberries to generate excitement for serving berries at the picnics and barbeques of warmer weather. Plus the lush, bright red fruit is packed with the health benefits of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, just to name a few. This is probably not why strawberries are a staple in 94% of American households. It’s probably because of their versatility, adaptable to many recipes such as that tart ingredient in pie or a sweet contributor to ice cream.

Strawberries can last up to a week in an open container in the refrigerator. Here are some simple tips to keep them fresh as long as possible. Wash as you go. Wash strawberries only before eating them. Leave the stems on as long as possible. Keeping the stems on until you’re about to eat the strawberries will prolong their life. Don’t let one moldy berry spoil the whole bunch. Be ruthless in tossing out bad berries to protect the rest.

If you just must have local berries but can’t eat them right now, freeze them for later use. Just place the fresh strawberries on a single layer on a cookie sheet after removing their stems. Then, place the sheet into the freezer for a few hours until the strawberries are completely frozen. Store in a plastic container till ready to thaw and eat.

Here’s an interesting factoid. Have you ever wondered why strawberry bushes are so lovely and fragrant? It’s because they are a member of the Rosaceae flowering plant family, which also contains—roses.

But here’s an even better tip – how to bake individual strawberry tartlets with the added tartness of rhubarb. The recipe follows:

Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Tartlets

Why bake an entire tart when everyone can have their own tartlet? These combine the best of spring strawberries with their luscious partner, rhubarb. Courtesy of Annalise at Completely Delicious

Ingredients

For the sweet tart dough:

1½ cup (188 grams) all-purpose flour

½ cup (57 grams) powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons (147 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Zest of 1 orange

1½ cup (200 grams) strawberries, sliced

1½ cup (175 grams) rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces

For the meringue:

2 egg whites and ¼ cup sugar

Preparation:

See the Completely Delicious website for instructions on how to make these delicious tartlets.

http://www.completelydelicious.com/2013/05/strawberry-rhubarb-meringue-tartlets.html

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats

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