With the winters having gone into a deep slumber and the sun begginning to dance through most part of the day,it looks like summers are not very far off and so are the mangoes(wink!!! i keep reminding myself this everytime i mention summers :-) !!) well its not time yet to discuss mangoes...not even the raw ones..sigh!!
Now,last few days i was observing while i went to shop for my fruits and vegetables,a few of the shops stocked strawberries alongside other fruits but they all looked a little stale and unappealing to me.However,as i went out yesterday for my routine shopping,i could see there was a huge influx of strawberries in the market because every vendor in the market i saw; had loads of plastic boxes stacked neatly on wooden trays with holes underneath them and containing luscious,red strawberries.I immediately knew it was the right season and the perfect time to pick some and so i did,a whole lot... for i simply just couldnt resist.
Not too long ago strawberries were difficult to find in india,and even if one did,it was the smaller fruit and it often would get stale on its way to markets because of its highly perishable nature not to forget that it was way too overpriced to be afforded by anyone but the affluent.
Mahabaleshwar(a town some hundred kms from pune and around two hundred km from Mumbai) was the first cultivator of strawberries in India and now other places like Pune,Nashik,sangli in maharashtra and Nainital in Uttarakhand have followed suit.Over the time,the fruit has become larger in size and also become less perishable(read better storage and transport) and yes,cheaper...a lot cheaper.
Now strawberries are not here to stay for long because the sun will soon be warmer in the coming months and considering that its mostly the scorching summer months that we'll want to have those smoothies and icecreams and other yummy stuff, its a great idea to freeze these beautiful red ,just ripe ones.Here is a step by step guide:
- Remove all the leaves from the fruit and give it a good wash under running water to remove any dust or soil that may be there.
- Cut off the green stem and the cap using a sharp knife(if you dont want to struggle with a frozen tip later).
- Check all the fruits for any bruises or mouldy or soft spots and remove them with the tip of your knife(better still ; chuck them off and keep the good ones only).
- Lay them on a thick sheet of kitchen towel and leave them for 10-15 mts so as to remove any excess water.
- Lay a wax paper/butter paper on a tray and line the strawberries on it taking care to keep all the berries seperate from each other.
- keep the whole tray inside the freezer compartment and let it stay there overnight or atleast for four hours.Freezing in the tray will ensure the strawberries dont fuse with each other and stay seperate.
- Remove the strawberries from the tray and store them in a Zip lock bag inside the freezer.Do always remember to remove maximum air out of the bag and make sure you label your bags with contents and date so that you know when to discard them off(if you are left with any,that is :-) ).This will keep good for atleast 6 to 8 months depending on the freezer condition.Do not try to refreeze them once they are thawed.
It was fab and easy too.Just whizz some sugar and a few frozen strawberries in the blender and fold into fresh home made yoghurt.
some other great options to use up frozen stawberries are:
- Make some great strawberry mousee folding lightly whipped creme,whipped egg white,sugar syrup and pureed strawberries together.
- Its a great milk shake option for the little ones(they all like strawberry flavour and i hate giving them packaged ones loaded with preservatives.)
- Make a delicious sauce to go with icecreames and pancakes.Simply cook it up with some sugar and water(add whole spices of your choice like a star anise or cinnamon for that special twist!!),strain and use!!
- Frozen strawberries make great pie filling and excellent tart fillings too!!
- Strawberry cheesecake is yet another yummylicious thing!!(i'll post a recipe soon.)
- It makes a delicious sorbet.whizz it up with some sugar syrup and lime/lemon zest thrown in for that extra kick!! its a great palette cleanser in between courses or after a heavy meal.
- Its a great add on for cocktails...add it to your margaritas and daiquiries or just go wild and make your own cocktails!!
This heart shaped, red fleshy fruit isn't just great looking but packs a great amount of nutrients for surprisingly small amount of calorie it imparts.Its a great boon for weight watchers.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine. Plus, strawberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and vitamin K.
Not only that; it is super rich in phytonutrients(antioxidants) and helps preventing cell degeneration.It has natural anti inflammatory properties and helps a great deal in patients suffereing from rheumatoid , osteoarthritis,asthama and even cancer.