It’s been a long, wet spring here in the Puget Sound but with some additional sunny days this year, the Northwest strawberry season is on track. Virtually everyone equates fresh picked berries with the arrival of summer. This sweet, delectable fruit will soon be in abundance.
Why is anticipation so high for this in-demand berry? Shoppers, not just “foodies,” are becoming more attuned to the benefits of organically grown farm products and are demanding more flavorful, pesticide and chemical free produce. Strawberries are number three on the list of the “dirty dozen;” a list of foods with the highest pesticide residue compiled by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). They rank high on the list, in part, because berries are prone to fungus which prompts conventional farmers to spray, leaving pesticide residue. So, ignore those perfectly shaped, flavorless berries commercially grown and shipped in from the south. They’ve been grown for mass production and bred for size, high yield and color. The locally grown, pesticide free, organic strawberry has higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamin C than those California wannabes. They may not be as pretty, perhaps a bit odd in shape, but once you bite into one fresh from your market, you’ll never want another.
Need to know where to buy organic strawberries this season? Visit 21acres.org for a link to the Puget Sound Farm Guide with information on U-pick farms. Want to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor? Purchase fresh picked berries at your local farms including Woodinville’s Root Connection; Carnation’s Oxbow Farm; your local farmer’s market; and of course, at the 21 Acres Market, open each week Wednesday through Friday, noon to 7 p.m.
Are you looking for new ways to prepare and devour this versatile berry? Celebrate this seasonal favorite with Chef Emily Moore, in a hands-on cooking class, “Strawberries in Season” on Saturday, July 7 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at 21 Acres in Woodinville. Bring your empty pint jars to be filled with fresh strawberry jams created from syrups infused with herb and flower essences. While the jams simmer students will make flaky buttermilk scone biscuits for strawberry shortcakes to be savored with fresh whipped cream from Duvall’s Cherry Valley Dairy and sweet quark from Toucan Tango cheeses. You’ll also learn to dry local strawberries for delicious winter treats.
Instructor Emily Moore is nationally recognized for her flavorful creations and artful presentations as former Executive Chef of Theoz and The Painted Table. She has received top reviews from local and regional food critics for her innovative cuisine. Currently Moore is Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle.
All ages are welcome. Fee is $40 per adult; $20 youth (16 and under). $35 discounted fee for 21 Acres members. For more information or to register and pay online, visit 21acres.org/school. Early registration is encouraged, class size is limited.
When you’ve taken full advantage and are plum full up on berries, be prepared for the next local, seasonal superstar. Learn how to cook those fruits and vegetables; check out the full line-up of summer cooking classes at 21 Acres.
Upcoming classes include: Preserving Techniques: Jams and Pickling; Designing your own Salad Dressing; Meatless Mondays; Tapas and Local Wines; Summer Berry Desserts; A Day in the Life of a Raw Food Vegan and Mastering Whole Grain Breads. Stay tuned for more information on our new “Cookbook Lovers Series” beginning in mid-July. Be sure to visit www.21acres.
Located in the new green-built Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living at 13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville, the 21 Acres School offers both multi-day and one-day courses and classes aligned under the focus areas: Growing, Eating, Living. Faculty possess diverse backgrounds related to sustainability and have excellent reputations of helping people learn how to cultivate, demonstrate and advance systems that support sustainable agriculture.
Two Simple Strawberry Amuse-bouche From 21 Acres Chefs
Add three simple ingredients to your local strawberry for a flavorful taste experience. Celebrate the small bite.
Strawberries with Balsamic
Wash strawberries gently. Just before eating, slice and serve simply topped with a spoonful of Greek-style yogurt or vanilla scented whipped cream. Dress simply with a grinding of fresh black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Serve.
Strawberries with Hazelnuts
Halve a strawberry. Mix cream cheese or quark with honey. Spoon on top or squeeze through a pastry bag. Top with a finely chopped toasted hazelnuts. Serve.