Strawberries are ripe for celebration
"Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did."
Dr. William Butler, 17th-century English writer
Sweet, delicate and lovely, the strawberry has
been cultivated for centuries – and before it was cultivated, people would search woodlands to find the tiny red fruits hidden under green leaves.
Pagans associated them with love, and Christians with righteousness. For Native Americans, they represented rebirth and good health, and recent epidemiological studies have associated strawberry consumption with lower rates of hypertension, inflammation, cancer and death from cardiovascular diseases.
But we eat them because they taste good, and they taste best this time of year, when they come from local farms, not from California.
So, let’s celebrate at a local spring festival. They’re happening in Bedford, Hollis, Temple and Wilton.
The eighth annual Bedford Strawberry Festival will be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Bedford Performance Stage, next to the town pool.
There will be strawberry shortcake and other food, plus a bounce house, face painting, an obstacle course, vendors, clubs and raffles. A fire engine and police cruiser will be on display with their latest technology.
The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Town of Bedford Cemeteries.
Local strawberries, homemade biscuits, homemade ice cream and hand-whipped cream attract crowds every year to the Hollis Strawberry Festival.
The festival will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 26, on the town common, and there will be entertainment by the Hollis Town Band.
In case of rain, it will be held in at Holls Brookline Middle School, 25 Main St.
Strawberry growing and strawberry tasting will be the focus at Temple Town Hall on Saturday, June 18, starting with an illustrated talk at 3 p.m. by berry-breeding experts. The presenters, professor Tom Davis and Dr. Lise Mahoney, will discuss their work on "Building a better (straw)berry."
At 4 p.m., the program will turn to eating, with strawberry shortcake made with homemade biscuits, whipped cream and berries from Barrett Hill Farm in Mason. A donation is requested.
The Strawberry Social is sponsored by the Temple Democrats, the town committee of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The social is open to all who want to learn about or eat strawberries, regardless of political persuasion. For more information, call 315-8371.
The First Unitarian Congregational Society will hold its ninth annual Strawberry Festival from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at The Red House, 598 Isaac Frye Highway.
There will be strawberry shortcake, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and soda, and a bounce house for the kids.
Tables are available for crafters and yard sale items. Call Carolyn Roy at 654-9561. Information: uuwilton.org.
This sauce can be used to spoon over yogurt with fresh strawberries, ice cream, pound cake or your favorite dessert. Great as a topping for pancakes and waffles, too.
2/3 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan, stir and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
Allow the syrup to cool completely. Hasten cooling by setting pan in a shallow bowl of ice water.
Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add lemon juice and all the cooled syrup. Puree until smooth.
Press through a fine sieve to remove some of the strawberry seeds, if desired.
Coarsely chop remaining strawberries and add to strawberry puree. Serve.
Can be stored refrigerated, in covered containers, for up to four days.
Strawberry banana shake
This breakfast shake is quick and nutritious. Eliminate the jam if desired and use an additional 1/2 cup strawberries.
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 small very ripe banana
4 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender; blend on high speed until smooth, scraping down ingredients in blender if necessary. Divide into two tall glasses and drink with a straw. Makes 2 servings.
Firm fresh strawberries work best in this recipe, but when the season is over, substitute blueberries, cherries or chopped peaches.
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
Additional sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and stir until all ingredient are well blended.
In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries.
Using a large spoon, fold ingredients just until moist; do not overmix.
Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, if desired.
Bake 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
Recipes courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension website