Strawberries are everywhere. They hit the markets somewhere around February 14, Valentines Day, and continue to increase in volume and drop in price. The first strawberries that are available sadly are usually flavorless. So I wait. Fruit in season is undeniably the best. That can’t be argued with. In season on the northeastern coast is June and the season is short. That is depressing. There is not too much that is in season right now but maybe celery and asparagus. So Plant City, Florida is not too bad. It’s still in the US and on the east coast. The weather south is warmer than here, and right now – I am jealous.
Organic strawberries really start showing up in our markets at the end of March. 95% of the time I will seek out organic strawberries and pay the higher price but on occasion I can be lured to the dark side. Every now and then, price, availability and how much I want need them plays a role. In general, I think the organic strawberries that are in our grocery store are consistently better than the conventional (why do the ones with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers get to be conventional, I am just saying). I like the feeling of doing the right thing, so if I have a choice between organic or conventional produce, then I usually choose organic and strawberries are no exception. I may spend more but if I can encourage change in the markets to provide more affordable, organic produce then it is worth it. I like the idea of changing the markets by my purchases. It seems to have more power than voting in this country. Money talks. Sad but true.
How do I tell when they are ripe? By smell. If they don’t have a strawberry smell, then that is what they are going to taste like. They can be the most beautiful, luscious red and be completely tasteless. When I am choosing my strawberries I look for firm, bright red berries that have a strawberry aroma. Sometimes you can be fooled by an overripe or mushed strawberry on the bottom so look out for those!
Strawberries are best eaten fresh but I couldn’t resist making scones from a few I had leftover. It can be a bit tricky to work with fruits like strawberries in baking because of the moisture in them. This recipe took a couple of tries but I am happy with the results. The scones were crispy around the edges and soft in the center just like a classic scone should be. There was a nice strawberry flavor but that will depend on how flavorful your strawberries are.
Fresh Strawberry Scones
makes 12 medium sized scones or 8 large
- 1 cup (152 g) of strawberries, chopped small in food processor or by hand
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (about a quarter of a lemon)
- 1 cup (100 g) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (100 g) white whole wheat flour (can substitute all purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup (64 g) white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (57 g) of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup (118 ml)of heavy cream
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- turbinado or raw sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (14 to 28 g) of melted butter or heavy cream
- 1 cup (130 g) of confectioners sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or cream (alternatively 2-3 tablespoons of crushed strawberries strained to get strawberry juice make a nice pink, strawberry flavored icing)
- A drop or two of vanilla (for strawberry version use a drop or two of fresh lemon juice)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. Process the strawberries, 1 teaspoon and lemon juice of sugar in a food processor until they are chopped small but still have some good size pieces. (This can be done by hand chopping and then adding the sugar. You can also adjust the sugar a bit if the strawberries are not sweet.) Set aside.
3. Mix the cream, egg and vanilla together until well blended
4. Mix the flours, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt into a bowl. Add the cold butter and cut into the flour until crumbly.
5. Quickly mix in the cream mixture and strawberries into the flour mixture until just moistened. Place dough onto a floured board and knead a couple of times. The ingredients will incorporate more and the dough will be sticky. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough and shape into a round about 3/4 inch thick and cut into 8 wedges or (as I did) shape the dough into a 9 by 7 inch rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, cut each into 6 squares and then into triangles by cutting from corner to corner.
6. Place the scones on an ungreased baking pan. Brush with melted butter or cream and sprinkle with turbinado or raw sugar. This part is optional but a nice touch! Bake for 22 minutes and if you are making the larger scones about 24 minutes. Bake until the edges are golden browned.
7. Mix the confectionery sugar with milk or strawberry juice until you get a “drizzle” consistency. It will be thin enough to drizzle but thick enough to stay! I know you sort of have to be there but you will see what I mean.
8. Enjoy with sweet butter or strawberry preserves! I like mine plain, but that is just me.
Laura Davis is the author of the blog Sweet Savory Planet and has a life long culinary passion with southern roots originating in her home state of Alabama. She has a degree in nutrition from University of Texas at Austin.