Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) -- Jersey Fresh strawberries, delicious with everything from cereal to creamy desserts, are now in season – with harvests underway in all parts of the state, Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today.
“People who have tasted Jersey Fresh strawberries know they are juicy and great-tasting, but they also are part of a healthy diet, providing an excellent source of vitamin C,” said Secretary Kuperus. “You can find sweet, plump Jersey Fresh strawberries at one of our many pick-your-own farms or your local farmers market.”
Strawberries should be plump and firm with a bright red color and natural shine. The size of the berry is not important; the color of the berry and the fragrance are the best indicators of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid strawberries with green or white color, or those that appear mushy, shriveled or leaky. Strawberries do not ripen after harvest, so they should be immediately stored in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption time as possible.
When purchasing, check the carton for stains, which indicate over-ripeness. Remove the strawberries from the market or store container. Store in a shallow container on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a shallow container is not feasible, put paper towels between the layers. Remove from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature for optimum flavor. Do not wash strawberries until ready to eat because their high water content, on top of the additional water, will result in a mushy berry. Once the caps are removed, an enzyme is released that destroys the vitamin C. Be certain to remove the caps after rinsing to prevent the strawberry from becoming waterlogged and from losing vitamin C content.
Strawberries are tasty raw, especially when served with liqueur or when dipped in chocolate. Preserve as a jam, or easily freeze by coating in a water and lemon juice mix.
New Jersey produced 1.6 million pounds of strawberries valued at $3.2 million in 2006. The strawberry season began the third week of May, peaks during early June and ends in mid-June.
Following are recipes for strawberries, found in “Jersey Fresh Cooks,” a cookbook available at local farm markets. For the location of farm markets, pick-your-own farms or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
JerseySummer Fruit Crisp
10 cups cut-up Jersey Fresh peaches, strawberries, plums, blueberries (any combination)
½ cup granulated sugar, or to taste
¼ cup Laird’s Apple Jack (apple brandy produced in Colts Neck)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 TBS plus ¼ cup flour (divided use)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts (divided into ½ cups)
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 1/3 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Gently toss fruit with sugar, Apple Jack, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with 3 TBS flour. (If fruit is very juicy, drain some or add a bit more flour.) Toss gently. Spread fruit in prepared pan; set aside.
Topping: In food processor or blender, process ½ cup walnuts until fine; transfer to a bowl; add oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining flour. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into oat mixture until crumbly. Add remaining chopped walnuts. Sprinkle mixture evenly over fruit. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired. Serves 12.
Contributed by: Patricia Mack, Hackensack, NJ
2 ½ cups of Jersey Fresh strawberries
1 ½ cups of water
½ cup granulated sugar
2 TBSP of lemon juice
2 tsp fresh lemon peel, grated, zest only
½ cup Jersey Fresh white wine
Prepare the day before or several hours before serving.
Puree 2 cups of strawberries in blender. Slowly add water. Slowly add the ½ cut of sugar, the lemon juice, lemon peel and white wine and blend well. Refrigerate. Chill well. Before serving, garnish with ½ cut remaining strawberries sliced in half. Serves 6.
Contributed by: Phyllis L. Marchand, Princeton, NJ.