We’ve all been there. Strawberry season is almost here. The fresh berries will be ready in a week or two. You can hardly wait. Visions of fresh berries and ice cream, shortcake, and just plain fresh berries dance in your head.
Then, those evil grocery stores start putting out the anemic imports. At first, they are easy to ignore. They are most of a car payment for 6 white and green berries. Then they start getting better and better looking. And cheaper.
Finally, you succumb. You help that little plastic clam shell of berries finish its million mile trek to your kitchen. They look all shiny and red sitting there in the little plastic prison. With great hope and anticipation you open up the convenient and recyclable box and decide to sneak just one.
Then you remember the reason why you swore you’d never buy these things again. Pretty though they may be, they simply cannot match the flavour of a berry allowed to ripen on the vine and then eaten within hours of picking.
But now what? You are stuck with this box of pretty red orbs. Not to worry, I have a plan.
Start by dressing your berries with brown sugar, not white. Contrary to urban legend, brown sugar is not really any healthier for you than white sugar. It has a marginal amount of iron in it from the stuff that’s added back in. However, in the taste challenge, it wins hands down.
The second part of the secret? The tiniest splash of vanilla. Like 1/4 teaspoon for a clam shell’s worth. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter through dinner and it will have plenty of juice and flavour by the time dessert rolls around.
It won’t match the berries picked fresh from the vine, but it will help tide you over until the real thing comes along.