Savor the Strawberries
If we're lucky, Richmonders can begin to find strawberries by late April. But these ruby beauties don't truly burst onto the scene until Mother's Day, delighting us to the end of May with their glowing color and rich sweetness. Conventional berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides, particularly in Richmond's unpredictable spring.
The challenge is the weather,explains Amy Hicks of Amy's Garden, an organic grower in Charles City County. "Think about it: You're a soft little fruit sitting on the ground, then it rains, and it might be hot and humid. You're prone to rot."
Hicks grows acre of organic berries each year, a variety called Chandler, which she sells in Richmond-area farmers markets. "We would grow more but it is labor intensive," she says. "You need to pick them every other day, there are a lot of them and you're bent over."
Hicks recommends storing fresh berries unwashed and sealed in either plastic or paper in the refrigerator, where they should keep for a week. Rinse well when ready to use. Their powerful sweetness leads most cooks to put strawberries in desserts, but they also make a balanced and unexpected counterpoint in savory dishes. Here, we offer several options for preserving strawberry's spring magic in fresh ways.