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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