Ingredient SpotLight

June means strawberries for me. It means the perfect, sweet berries that I used to fill myself with when I went picking along the sides of the road. It means the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen when my mother and I mixed them with sugar to make jam. It means the most wonderful time of the year ... for me anyway!

As you might have guessed, I love strawberries. I really love all berries, but strawberries have a special place in my heart since so many wonderful childhood memories of mine revolve around picking, preparing and eating them. So it will come as no surprise that I am actually excited about sharing some fun facts and delicious recipes with you now!

One small cup of the berries has a mere 48 calories and a whopping 90 mg of vitamin C -- those are numbers that can make even an orange jealous! While strawberries are grown in every state in the United States, California is the strawberry producer to beat ... providing about 80% of the nation's berries nearly year round.

When choosing berries, select bright red berries with their stems intact. Smaller berries are often more sweet, but you really need to taste them to verify! Never wash the berries until you are ready to use them. While they are best fresh and must be used with a day or two, they can also be frozen. In addition to being frozen in pieces, they can be frozen whole -- which I like to do so I can use them to make smoothies or other frozen beverages.

So, get some fresh berries now -- since they are at the peak of their season. You just can't imagine a nicer way to enjoy this member of the rose family!

Fresh Strawberry Smoothies

While I'll admit that I most often just pop fresh strawberries into my mouth, taking a few minutes to add some yogurt and touch of vanilla makes for a wonderful breakfast.
  • 2 c. hulled and quartered strawberries
  • 8 oz. strawberry yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If a frostier smoothie is desired, you can add a few ice cubes or, better yet, a few frozen strawberries to the mix!

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ultra-Quick Strawberry Pie

I think a pie that has just a few ingredients probably does the best job of showcasing a terrific fruit like strawberries.
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) strawberry jello
  • 4 c. sliced strawberries
  • 1 baked pie shell

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water. Bring to boil and stir until thick and clear. Add the package of strawberry jello. Cool slightly. Put the sliced strawberries in the baked pie shell. Pour the cooled jello mixture over the strawberries and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting and serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus chilling time