May in California: Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry truck It’s May (well for a few more days at least) and in California, that means strawberries.  When we drove to Monterey a few weeks ago, we could see strawberry fields stretching across the terrain, red, ripe berries glistening in the sun.  There are dozens of fresh fruit stands along Highway 1, all beckoning with promises of ripe, fresh berries, jams, preserves, pies, and all sorts of strawberry concoctions.  I love this time of year.StrawberriesOur local farmers’ market had a special on strawberries a couple of weeks ago, $10 for a half flat, which is 6 of those little plastic baskets full. I was reluctant to take so many, since they tend to get fuzzy before we can eat them all.  The woman at the farmer’s market stand told me the secret to keeping them fresh longer:  take a paper towel and place it on the bottom of an airtight plastic container.  Put the unwashed strawberries in the container, and place another paper towel on top.  Seal with a lid, and store in the refrigerator.  She said they would keep up to a week without turning bad. The key, she said, was not washing them until you are ready to eat them.I tried it, and it worked like a charm.  We had fresh strawberries all week, and by the end of the week, only 2 had gotten a little fuzzy, but the rest were fine.

Strawberries and creme fraiche When I was a kid, my mom would clean strawberries and put sugar on them, then put them in the refrigerator to marinate.  We used them for ice cream topping, shortcake, or just ate them by the bowlful.  The strawberries grown around here are so naturally sweet that I can’t imagine putting sugar on them.  For a great treat, just add a little creme fraiche to the top. Perfection!

One of our family favorite desserts growing up was Strawberry Pie.  You can use a pre-packaged gel to make a pie, but it’s just as easy to make it yourself.

Strawberry Pie

1 pie crust, pre-baked to golden brown
1.5 quarts fresh strawberries
1 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
3/4 water or ginger ale (for a little extra zip)

Clean strawberries by removing tops & cutting in half, then rinsing & drying.  Use about half of the berries to fill up the pie shell.

Mash the remaining half with a potato masher & mix with sugar.  In a medium saucepan, heat over medium heat until it comes to a slow boil.  Stir frequently.

Mix together cornstarch and water or ginger ale in a separate bowl.  Add to the heated strawberries a little at a time until thickened but still pourable, stirring constantly.

Pour mixture over the berries in the pie shell and refrigerate several hours.

Serve with whipped cream or dessert topping of your liking.


Glennia Campbell
Glennia Campbell has been around the world and loved something about every part of it. She is interested in reading, photography, politics, reality television, food and travel and lives in the Bay Area of the U.S.

She blogs about family travel at The Silent I and is also the co-founder of MOMocrats Beth Blecherman and Stefania Pomponi Butler, which launched out of a desire to include the voices of progressive women, particularly mothers, in the political dialogue of the 2008 campaign.

She found her way to Democratic politics under the tutelage of the late Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Cora Weiss, and other anti-war activists and leaders in the anti-nuclear campaigns of the 1980's. She has been a speaker at BlogHer, Netroots Nation, and Mom 2.0, and published print articles in KoreAm Journal.

Professionally, Glennia is a lawyer and lifelong volunteer. She has been a poverty lawyer in the South Bronx, a crisis counselor for a domestic violence shelter in Texas, President of a 3,000 member non-profit parent's organization in California, and has worked in support of high-tech and medical research throughout her professional career.
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