Admit it. If you’re a strawberry fan, you’re buying them by the bushel right now. Savoring sweet local strawberries in any form you can conceive of–muffins, pies, salads, soups, shortcake, crumbles. But what happens after strawberry season? Sure, you can turn them into jam. But what if you’re not looking for a huge drawn out process. What if you have a fear of boiling water baths? You could freeze them. That’s easy enough. Though a bit boring. The only logical option is to move to condiments.
Summer generally means a few quarts of ice cream. Not all at once of course, throughout the season. I put my ice cream maker bucket in the freezer a few days ago. Unless it’s in use, that’s where it lives all summer, ready to churn at a moment’s notice. A fresh quart of strawberries from the Park Slope CSA pushed me over the edge. As soon as I picked up the small carton, I knew they would soon be turned into ice cream.
Somehow I never tire of strawberries and rhubarb. Every trip to the greenmarket means at least 2 quarts of strawberries and a few pieces of rhubarb. This week alone we ate 4 quarts (ATE not canned), and the week isn’t over yet. Remember there’s only two of us. I make sure I get some of the first strawberries I can find and probably end up with some of the last. For at least a month, when strawberries are bountiful, it’s like no other food exists.
The combination of strawberry and rhubarb is nothing short of genius. Food needs to be balanced–salty, sweet, spicy, tart. The combination of sun warmed fresh strawberries and blood-red crisp rhubarb is the ultimate combination of sweet and tart. For me , it’s the perfect dessert. I LOVE dessert and would never skip it if I could. BUT, I’m also not a fan of super sweet things. I stay away from many pies, often laden with extra sugar. While a small square of dark chocolate is perfectly satisfying, I want nothing to do with milk chocolate. Strawberry rhubarb pie is pretty much my ideal dessert. But of course, its something only so perfect in season. A strawberry rhubarb pie in winter, filled with California strawberries and rhubarb from who knows where just isn’t the same. When I can’t enjoy something fresh year round, I preserve it. And my beloved pie now takes the form of jam.