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Jersey Fresh Strawberries in Season

For Immediate Release: May 22, 2003


Hope Gruzlovic




Jersey Fresh strawberries, delicious with everything from cereal to creamy desserts, are now in season - with harvests under way in South Jersey and expected to begin in northern New Jersey by June 1st, Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today.

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 balsamic vinegar and brushed with powdered sugar. 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 $2.08 million in 2002. The strawberry season begins at the end of May, peaks during June and ends in mid-July. Following is a recipe for strawberries, found in Jersey Fresh Cooks, a cookbook available at local farm markets. For the location of farm markets or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.

Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup milk
1 large Jersey Fresh egg
Jersey Fresh strawberries

Sift flour, then add baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift into bowl. Mix ½ cup shortening with pastry blender in flour until mixture is the consistency of coarse oatmeal. Beat one egg well in small bowl and add 2/3 cup milk. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Pour in egg and milk and with a fork, mix with flour, slowly at first, then rapidly and vigorously until soft dough is formed. If you want individual shortcakes, drop heaping tablespoonfuls 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet. Shape round with spoon or spatula. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust is an even brown. Split while hot, butter, then fill and top with berries. Serve with cream, plain or whipped. Serves six.