Strawberries taste like and signal the beginning of summer to me. Do you stop to enjoy, and I mean really savor that first sweet fragrant burst of a ripe strawberry at the beginning of the season? I did this week.

I don’t like strawberries the rest of the year because they cost a fortune and have a sour, insipid taste to them, but when summer rolls around they turn into an abundant precious jewel of a treat. I think of them as nature’s candy – the flavor packed kind without the calories to match!

Have you ever wondered what makes a strawberry taste sooooooo much better in summer? The obvious answer is that is their natural season, but lets go a little deeper into what makes a great tasting strawberry, and why it is worth paying a little more for the best berries.

1). Strawberries that are picked ripe have the most flavor, but they do not travel as well or hold on the store shelves for as long, so many farmers pick them before they ripen. You can tell if a berry has been picked ripe by simply smelling that sweet almost perfume like aroma of the berry. If there is no or very little berry fragrance, and I don’t bother buying them.

2). Organically grown strawberries are not only better for you and the environment, but the pesticides and non-organic fertilizers used to grow conventional strawberries prevent the flavor causing oils from fully developing. Organic fertilizer releases nutrients to the plant much slower, allowing the natural ripening process to take place.

3). The varieties of strawberries that provide the most flavor usually have lower yields, so they will cost more, because farmers have to compensate their bottom line. You are literally paying for flavor.

4). Origin is important too. The kind of soil the berry is grown in matters greatly, because the sheer density of nutrients in rich soil, as opposed to sandy, yield a much more complex flavor. Water can also dilute the flavor of a strawberry, so hopefully the grower is sparing when watering them.

I’m usually a purest when it comes to eating my strawberries, and have been known to devour a pint of them at a time, but this is my all time favorite strawberry dessert. It is so quick and easy to do when throwing a dinner party, yet complex enough flavor to make your guests think you have a fairy Godmother celebrity chef hiding in your kitchen.

Balsamic Strawberry Sundae

Balsamic Strawberry Sundae

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

18 large strawberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 dark brown sugar, packed
3 cups vanilla bean ice cream

DIRECTIONS:

1). Rinse, trim, and halve the strawberries.
2). Heat balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves and liquid reduces slightly to a syrup like consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in strawberries while sauce is still hot (berries will soften in texture).
3). Scoop ice cream into bowls and serve with warm balsamic sauce and berries over the top.

 

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  • June 6, 2011
    7:10 pm

    THE STRAWBERRIES LOOKED WONDERFUL AND I COPIED THE RECIPE – AND I USUALLY DON’T LOOK AT RECIPES BUT THIS ONE WAS EYECATCHING. OXOXXOXOXOXO MOM

    • June 10, 2011
      8:42 am

      I’ll make them for you in July when I am home, mom.

  • June 7, 2011
    11:12 am

    YUMMMMMMM!

  • June 7, 2011
    1:22 pm

    OMG, this dessert looks so yummy!!! I would have never thought to put balsamic vinegar in the same bowl with strawberries, not to mention ice cream. I’m going to make this for my husband – thank you for the recommendation!

    • June 10, 2011
      8:43 am

      Let me know what hubby thinks? I made them for a friend, and he turned his nose up at the thought of it, but once he tried a bite – he was asking for seconds.

  • June 7, 2011
    9:23 pm

    This sounds SO oddly delicious! I wouldn’t have thought about putting vinegar (balsamic or otherwise) on my strawberries, but truth be told this sounds DIVINE! I will have to try it out this weekend! Thanks Jewels! ~K

    • June 10, 2011
      8:45 am

      You’ll be glad you did – really makes those taste buds pop.

  • June 8, 2011
    10:09 pm

    Fresh strawberries are such a treat! I generally eat them plain since I can’t have ice cream, but maybe I’ll try a splash of the balsamic vinegar when I pick up a fresh carton this week.

    • June 10, 2011
      8:48 am

      Hey Ruthee – can you have frozen yogurt or a dairy substitute ice cream like Tofutti? The dish really needs the sweet, creaminess of the ice cream (or substitute) for balance. I don’t think they would be very good on their own, but your welcome to try.

  • June 9, 2011
    11:35 am

    Julie, you have done it again. You’re right, this is the time when I go to Plow Boys to get my Strawberries. They’re big, beautiful and are delicious. I’m going to try this recipe of yours and I can all ready tell that I’m going to love it!!!

    Jay Collins, Culinary Artist

  • June 10, 2011
    8:53 am

    Hey Jay – I just looked up Plow Boys – looks amazing! I can almost smell those strawberries from here!

  • June 11, 2011
    10:33 am

    Just Picked Fresh strawberries from my strawberry patch, can’t wait to try the recipe, Thanks!

  • June 14, 2011
    1:37 pm

    I think that strawberries and a glass of Veuve Cliquot are Paradise on Earth (on grass if you’re for Wimbledon)… heaven recipes are yours…

  • June 24, 2011
    12:23 am

    In the unlikely event of having left over strawberries, they’re also excellent home beauty aids. Mashed up strawberries with a little baking soda, left on teeth for five minutes is great for gentle natural teeth whitening.

    Mashed up strawberries mixed with honey for a face mask will calm inflamed skin, reduce pores, exfoliate (via the salicylic acid in the fruit, so don’t go scrubbing your face with the pips!), soften and even skin tone. Excellent for skin emergencies, especially ones created by allergies to pollution in the air.

    …I have issues with leaving enough strawberries behind to make face masks out of, but if they’re ever going cheap at the supermarket it’s always worth grabbing some to treat your skin with.

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