Spring crops are so, so very exciting after a winter of root vegetables. We eat asparagus every day for a few weeks, we cook rhubarb until it comes out of our ears, and the greens, oh the greens! But unlike summer gifts that lend themselves to canning and preserving, spring foods are so delicate – gracing us with their presence for such a short time, and holding their flavors for only an instant after they are plucked out of the earth. The same is true for strawberries; the last of the spring harvest; the fruit that welcomes us into summer.
Strawberries were the first for our family in another way. They were the first crop we picked on our road to “putting-up” for the winter. They were the first item we placed in our new chest freezer a few years ago. The girls and I (well, Emerson and I…and Ophelia hanging out in the Ergo) picked forty pounds of strawberries one year, very excited about eating them in the winter, very excited about what would be next. But what was next was too many frozen strawberries in the freezer, devoid of their essence, robbed of their flavor. How was I to know?
Through trial and error, that’s how.
So this year we enjoyed strawberries for what they are – fruit that are so lovely and ephemeral. Fruit that we enjoyed off the vine, on cereal, on salads, in dressings. In soups, in breads, in ice-cream, on shortcake, and in as many other ways as we could fashion until they were gone. And now they’re gone.
But not entirely….