Category Archives: Fruits

Hello, June

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The warm weather is here!

Fruits  and vegetables abound with all  the brillance of the sunny warmth all around beginning in June. Summer produce begins to sprout and before you know it, all types of berries are showing up in your local farmers markets,  reaching their peak in flavor and with the season comes blueberries, strawberries, black berries and stone fruits like cherries.

So , I am sure that you are wondering what  you can  expect to find in your local supermarkets and  grocery store shelves and what can you make with it? Well, here is a list I have put together that can help you break out of your cooking rut using  fresh fruits and vegetables in their peak season!

Also note that buying locally sourced produce is easier on your wallet and it  helps the local economy as well.

June Fruits and Vegetables

Apricots
Avocados
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cabbage
Carrots
Cherries
Corn
Cucumber
Fava Beans
Green Beans
Greens
Herbs
Kale
Kiwi
Leeks
Mangoes
Nectarines
Peaches
Peas
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Spinach
Strawberries
Sorrel
Watermelon
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
 

This Month’s Featured Fruit: Blueberries

Blueberries are here! Those plump little berries are packed full of antioxidants and they are  delicious, nutritious and oh so  versatile. They’re naturally fat-free, high in vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. We love them in cereals, salads, sauces, as toppings and by the handful.Blueberries pair marvelously with lemon flavor (juice and zest). Think of a refreshing blueberry lavender lemonade for sipping in the hammock. As with all berries, buy organic if possible to avoid pesticide exposure. 

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Photo Credit: Fitness Republic , 2017

Blueberry Varieties

Throughout the year, we typically see the beautiful, plump cultivated blueberries we’re most familiar with. However, in the summer it’s easy to spot smaller wild blueberries popping up in the market.

The main difference between wild and cultivated blueberries is found in their size: cultivated blueberries are typically larger than wild blueberries. Which means, since most of a blueberry’s antioxidants and other health benefits are found in the skin, per cup there will be more skin of wild blueberries than cultivated ones, due to their size.

However, it’s important to note that both varieties of blueberries are delicious, healthy and a nutritional powerhouse that belongs in everyone’s diet.

While we love to take advantage of the short season of wild blueberries and enthusiastically devour them in the summer, we also are happy to enjoy the cultivated ones year round.

What Goes Well With Blueberries?

Produce: bananas, lemon, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, spinach, lemon, lime, watermelon, beets, orange, kiwi, and coconut

Herbs, Spices & Sweets: cinnamon, ginger, honey, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, and basil

Savory: oatmeal, granola, almonds, walnuts, pork, cornmeal, and chicken

Dairy: cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream, yogurt, mascarpone, goat cheese, ricotta, and buttermilk

How To Select and Store Blueberries

Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform blue colour. Avoid berries that are dull in color or soft and watery in texture (as the presence of moisture will cause them to decay).

Give the container a shake to see whether the berries move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged, or worse, moldy.

Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator. Here, they will keep for up to three days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.

Blueberries are extremely easy to freeze and store for future use. To do so, buy them in abundance in the summer and freeze them for a batch of Sunday blueberry pancakes or to stuff into muffins throughout the year. To freeze, wash blueberries and remove any stems and spoiled blueberries. Arrange on a clean tea towel to gently blot dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flash freeze the cleaned and dried blueberries until frozen. Transfer to an airtight container and use within 8 months.

How To Prepare Blueberries

Your berries should not be washed until you are ready to eat them, as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skin from spoiling. Fresh berries are very fragile. They should be washed briefly and carefully and then gently pat them dry.  You can also spin them dry in salad spinner.

Blueberry Tips

  • Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling.
  • Like other tender fruit, blueberries have a natural bloom or slight white coating. The plant produces this in order to protect the fruit, so wait to wash your berries until you are ready to enjoy them.
  • Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer them to a re-sealable bag or container. This keeps them from sticking together.
  • Add frozen blueberries to a smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.
  • When shopping in the store, give the container of fresh berries a shake to see whether they move freely. If they don’t, this may be a sign that they are soft and damaged or moldy.
  • Wash your blueberries in a salad spinner to keep them intact while drying them at the same time.

Serving Ideas

Everybody knows that blueberry muffins are a perfect morning food, but don’t forget that blueberry pancakes or blueberry sauce on waffles can bring breakfast to a whole new level. This vegan blueberry lemon loaf is also a great treat in the morning if you need a pick-me-up!

Blueberries are also classic in pies and cobblers. Blueberries and lemons are a match made in heaven beneath a blanket of oat streusel or biscuits. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream for a decadent spin on this dish.

Add blueberries to your favorite greens like kale or spinach and pair with some salty cheese like feta to have a delicious and complex textured saladGrilled peaches and blueberries tossed in vinaigrette are also delicious, while this simple yet tasty blueberry, walnut, and Manchego cheese salad is great for a quick side dish.

For a spin on your traditional bruschetta, try this gorgeous blueberry and beet bruschetta at your next gathering. It will be sure to wow your guests with its striking color and flavor.

After a long week, wind down with some blueberry mojitos. Muddle blueberries with mint to get extra flavor and a beautiful hue to your drink.

A Caprese salad is typically prepared using a few high quality ingredients like fresh mozzarella, tasty tomatoes and fresh basil. Seasoned only with good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste, it’s as delicious as it is simple. Try giving it a little extra boost of flavor and color  with fresh blueberries .

You can never go wrong with a classic like blueberry muffins. Perfect for on-the-go breakfasts and late-afternoon snacks, keeping a stash on hand will satisfy all your hunger cravings.

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Blueberries. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed May 15, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/blueberries/ 

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Hello, May!

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What’s in season right now, this month? For starters, lettuces, turnip greens, kale, and possibly some root vegetables like fennel and onions are signatures of Spring. You’re also likely to see strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus, and okra. Check out the list below for a quick guide to the top in-season fruits and vegetables for the month of May.

May Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Apricots
Arugula
Asparagus
Basil
Beets
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Collard Greens
Cauliflower
Chard
Cherries
Garlic
Green Garlic
Garlic Scapes
Kale
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Okra
Peas
Radishes
Rhubarb
Scallions
Spinach
Strawberries
Sugar Peas
Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Turnip Greens

Hello April!

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It’s Spring Time……

And cooking with the seasons means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor and for the purposes of freshness, April is a fabulous month for choice! Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally. In fact, when fruits and vegetables have been allowed to ripen on the vine for consumption — they taste sweeter and have significantly more intense flavor.

And, locally sourced produce helps the local economy as well.

April Fruits and Vegetables

Artichokes
Arugula (Rocket)
Asparagus
Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Chicory
Chives
Dandelion greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Fern
Horseradish
Leeks (end of season)
Lettuce (leaf and head)
Limes
Morel Mushrooms
Oranges
Papayas
Peas
Radishes
Ramps
Rhubarb
Shallots
Strawberries
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Onions
Turnips
Watercress

 

This Month’s Featured Vegetable: Cabbage

Cabbage is in season all year long and is more abundant during the beginning of Spring.Cabbage is a low-calorie, fiber-rich, leafy vegetable that boasts plenty of health benefits, which include: treatment for constipation, headaches, obesity, arthritis, and vitamin C deficiency. An unsung hero of the vegetable crisper, this versatile veggie can be used in everything from slaws and salads, to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, to soups and stews and Indian curries.

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Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2018

Cabbage Varieties

Cabbage comes in a variety of kinds – green, red, Savoy and Napa.

Green and red cabbages are identical with the exception of their colour. Both are quite heavy for their size due to their density and are smooth and spherical in shape.

Savoy cabbage has crinkly and flexible green leaves that are looser than a green or red cabbage. Savoy is also milder in flavour (with the exception of the stems, which are slightly bitter) and very tender.

Napa cabbage is long with oblong leaves and pale green in colour and tastes milder than green cabbage and is common in Asian cuisine.

 

How to Select and Store Cabbage

Select  cabbages  with compact  heads and that feel  heavy for their size with good colour and nice crisp leaves. Avoid cabbages that have brown and/or blemished spots, or loose or yellow leaves. Cabbage generally keeps for a pretty long time and can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to two weeks. That quality along for most cabbages makes it a good ingredient to keep on hand. However, Napa cabbage has a shorter shelf life and will only last approximately four days.

How to Prepare Cabbage

A cousin to broccoli, this potent anti-cancerous cruciferous vegetable can be a part of many healthy meals. It cab be great raw, in slaws, roasted in pieces, or chopped and sautéed with olive oil and garlic. It cab also be the best comfort foods of all times – cabbage rolls.

To prepare your cabbage, first remove the outer leaves and run it under cold water. To core the cabbage, use a small sharp knife and cut a cone shaped section from the bottom of the cabbage. Or, you can cut the cabbage into quarters starting at the stem end. Be sure to cut the core out of each piece.

You can also freeze cabbage for future use. Start by first chopping it into slices or chunks, depending on how you choose to use it in your recipes. Blanch cabbage for about a minute or two in boiling water, then drain and submerse into an ice bath to shock the cabbage and stop the cooking process. Spread the leaves or pieces out and pat dry. Transfer to a baking sheet to flash freeze, and then place in an airtight container and use within 9 months.

Important to note: One pound of cabbage will yield approximately four cups of shredded raw cabbage or two cups cooked cabbage.

Cabbage Tips

  • Red cabbage tends to turn pale blue when cooked so if you want it to retain its vibrant purple colour, add a little vinegar or lemon juice (or something slightly acidic like apples or wine).
  • Shredded cabbage is a great addition to any salad, soup or stir-fry and cooked shredded cabbage is a terrific filling in wraps and casseroles.
  • Try cooking cabbage until it’s just tender. This way it will retain its sweetness and crunch.
  • If you find it difficult to slice cabbage thinly, try peeling a few leaves off the head of the cabbage and stacking them on your cutting board. This makes it much easier to finely slice to your desired thickness.
  • Said to aid digestion, fermented foods including sauerkraut made from cabbage are on trend. It’s also very easy to do yourself at homeThis recipe is a good starting point for those who would like to give it a go.
  • Speaking of foods that are on trend, Kimchi, another fermented cabbage-based side dish, is having a much–deserved moment and can also be made at home.

 

Source:

Produce Made Simple: Cabbage. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed March 18, 2018.  https://producemadesimple.ca/cabbage/ 

Hello, March

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Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for March

Listed below is a broad range of beautiful fruits and  vegetables that are available right now, as well as tips on how to prepare them.

Arugula
Asparagus
Avocados
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chives
Collards
Endive
Garlic
Grapefruit
Guavas
Kumquats
Leeks
Lemons
Limes
Mandarins
Mint
Onions
Oranges
Parsley
Parsnips
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Strawberries
Tangerines
Turnips
Spinach
Walnuts

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Asparagus is a perennial favorite and is really only worth eating in the springtime. And since asparagus season comes around for a few short weeks every spring try to enjoy this delicious vegetable while it lasts! The fresh flavor of asparagus purchased at the farmers market is at its best when prepared simply.  It can be eaten raw, grilled, roasted and sauteed. Think beyond drenching it i Hollandaise sauce. It’s lovely with lemon and mint. Shaved asparagus is great in salads and roasted asparagus makes a perfect springtime side dish, whether it is at a barbecue or a formal dinner.

Photo Credit: SouthwestJournal.com, 2017

 

 

CITRUS FRUITS
Citrus fruits like grapefruits, lemons, limes oranges, tangerines and mandarins show up citrusevery year when the sky goes gray and we are all in desperate need of some bright color on our plates during our winter meals and continues to grace our dinner tables right through spring.  Now is the best time where you can find a great selection of citrus fruits in you local  grocery stores and super markets right now. Why not use real lemon juice to make your favorite salad dressing, it tastes so fresh and the light acidity will make a salad sing!

 

 

PARSNIPS
Parsnips are root vegetables that look like off-white carrots with parsley-like, leafy tops.Parsnips-58371ca43df78c6f6a3688e9 Unsurprisingly, they’re related to both carrots and parsley. Parsnips are usually served roasted or cooked, but can also be eaten raw.

Look for bright, very firm, relatively smooth parsnips. They should, like most fruits and vegetables, feel heavy for their size. This tip is particularly important when choosing parsnips, since they can get dried out or turn extra woody if not properly stored.If you’re lucky enough to buy parsnips with their greens still attached, the greens should look fresh and moist. Remove the greens when you get them home for longer storage.

Store the parsnips chilled and loosely wrapped in plastic. Fresh parsnips will last a week or two properly stored.

When cooked until tender parsnips have a lovely, starchy texture that works beautifully roasted or added to soups and stews. Add parsnips the same way you would add carrots or potatoes to stews, knowing that they’ll have a nuttier flavor than carrots and a sweeter, more distinctive, and less starchy flavor than potatoes.

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Winter Fruit Spotlight: Pears

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During the winter, nutrient-rich fresh pears reach their seasonal prime late January through February. While they are a treat to eat on their own, pears, with their perfect colors and unique texture, can give a sweet flavor to a variety of dishes. When you select your pears, make sure to check the “neck”, when mean to apply gently pressure to the next of the pear with your thumb. If the flesh of the neck yields to pressure, then it is ripe. Always store unripe pears at room temperature to ripen fully.

Anjou

Flavor Profile: The most abundant pear in the United States. Anjou Pears are short anjou red and greennecked and come in green and red varieties. They are incredible juicy and have a firm texture with a flavor that is sweet and citrusy.

In the Kitchen: Anjou pears are excellent for light snacking. They are also great for baking, poaching or roasting. Add Anjou pears to a salad, or cheese plate or even to a meat entree that has chick or pork as it main dish for a bit of variety in your weekly diet.

Asian
asian pear

Flavor Profile: Shaped like an apple, Asian pears are known for their creamy flesh, crunchy texture and melon like flavor.

In the Kitchen: Asian pears are best eaten raw or diced in salads or julienned and added to slaws. You can juice Asian pears into a morning juice blend or puree into a sauce or dressing that can be used as marinade for chicken and pork.

Bosc

Flavor Profile: Bosc Pears are sweet juicy and aromatic and have elongated neck with abosc distinctive brown skin.

In the Kitchen: Bosc pears are prized by chefs and home cooks alike because they can hold the shape beautifully when cooked, making them the best choice for grilling, poaching or baking. Gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts are the best pairing for this variety of pair when adding in other ingredients.

Bartlett

Flavor Profile: Bartlett pears is the most commonly found pear in most grocery stores and supermarkets. What makes the Bartlett pear unique is that is bright4409-03ens as they ripen which does not happen for most pear varieties. When fully rip, Bartlett pears are green, crunchy, juicy, sweet and slightly buttery.

In the Kitchen: When the slightest of heat is applied, Bartlett pears tend to loose their shape immediately, which makes them great for baking. They can be used in pies, tarts, quick breads, preserves, syrups or chutney with relative ease.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Vegetable Medley

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Photo Credit: Cooktop Cove, 2016

I absolutely L-O-V-E Brussels sprouts!

Most people do not and the lovely little vegetable has a bad reputation for being the least tasty among pick eaters. But I have found that when you find the right way to cook them they are actually incredibly delicious!

Traditionally Brussels sprouts have been boiled, since time in memorial and crispy-balsamic-brussels-sprouts-2this method of cooking diminishes their flavor, making them soggy and without texture. So I roast mine instead and this method of cooking totally elevates the lowly sprout to new heights. Yes! Roasting them gives the sprouts a delicious crispy texture and an awesome flavor. They are a very savory vegetable though, which is why in this recipe they were paired with red apples to give them with a little sweetness and baby Yukon Gold potatoes so that you have a wonderful range of flavors with each fork full.

This recipe is just in time for during the winter doldrums!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half*
2 Red Delicious apples, medium diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced into a paste
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, small diced
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1½ teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and roughly chopped, for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400º F.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except, parsley and cashews.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are browned in spots and the other vegetables are tender and crispy around the edges.

Remove the Brussels sprouts from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish the vegetables with a sprinkling of parsley and cashews, if desired and serve immediately.

 

Cook’s Notes:
*You can use any full sized potatoes that you desire, just cut them into a medium sized diced.

 

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Roasted Stonefruit Cobbler

So, what do you do with any left over fruit like peaches, cherries, plums and nectarines? Why not make an end of the Summer cobbler. Here, the fruit was roasted and then topped with a crumble crumb crust to create this dessert:

Roasted Stonefruit Cobbler With Coconut Gelato and Balsamic Syrup.

 

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Strawberry Vanilla Jam

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Photo Credit:  www.Napidoktor.hu,  2015.

Making your own jam is a great way to use your slow cooker in the summer. It’s also a delicious way to use up overripe fruit.

Makes About Four 8-pints

Ingredients:
2 pounds of strawberries
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar

Directions:
Wash the strawberries and drain in a colander. Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut in half. With a small, sharp knife, halve the vanilla bean lengthwise. Add strawberries and vanilla halves to a slow cooker along with the lemon juice and sugar. Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 2 hours.

Uncover the slow cooker and stir the jam. Continue cooking, uncovered, on low for an additional 2–3 hours or until the jam has thickened, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if it is a little runny; it will get thicker as it cools. If you want a smoother consistency, use a potato masher to break up the fruit.

Discard the vanilla bean and ladle the jam into four  1-cup plastic or glass containers with tight-fitting lids. Allow to cool, uncovered, then cover and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Jam will last 3 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 1 year in the freezer.

Cook’s Notes:
Try swirling a spoonful of jam with plain Greek yogurt for breakfast or dessert.

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Pancakes with Roasted Strawberries

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If you like strawberry shortcakes, then you will love this short stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with caramelized strawberries and crunchy almonds and drizzles of butter and syrup. Add bacon or breakfast sausage links for the perfect combination of sweet and savory and serve them up for a spectacular brunch.

Makes Twelve 4-inch Pancakes

Ingredients:
For the roasted strawberries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved, quartered if large
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

For the pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for pan and serving
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Directions:
To Roast the strawberries:Preheat oven to 425°F. Place strawberries, sugar, and salt in a glass baking dish. Scrape in vanilla seeds, add pod, and stir to combine. Roast, stirring occasionally, until juices are bubbling, 15–18 minutes. Let cool slightly and discard pod.

To Make the pancakes:Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Beat eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. melted butter in a medium bowl with a fork to incorporate eggs. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

Heat a large griddle or 2 cast-iron or nonstick skillets over medium; brush with butter. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook until bubbles form on the surface and pop, and the underside is golden brown, 2 1/2–3 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 2 1/2–3 minutes more. Transfer pancakes to plates or a platter and brush tops with butter. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing griddle with butter as needed.
Serve pancakes topped with roasted strawberries and sprinkled with almonds, if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
Roasted strawberries can be made up to 5 days ahead and leftovers can be enjoyed over biscuits, yogurt, or ice cream.

Pancakes can be kept warm on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet in a 250°F oven.

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Hello July!

 

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It is not surprising that strawberries are the most popular berry in the world. An extremely versatile fruit, the strawberry is great in salads, desserts, and with proteins, and they’re perfect to eat as a snack. They’re in season late April through August, and in their peak during July, there is no time like no time like the present to take full advantage of strawberries.

Did you know that there are more than 600 strawberry varieties differing in flavor, size, and texture, although you can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh decorated with yellow seeds and crowed with a small, trifoliate crown of leaves.

Fresh strawberries have a very short shelf life and are very perishable and should only DSC05495be purchased a few days prior to use. When selecting strawberries, look for firm, plump, mold-free berries that have a shiny, deep red color and intact green stems. Steer clear of berries that are dull in color with green or yellow patches—once picked, strawberries do not continue to ripen. Make sure that prepackaged strawberries are not packed too tightly, which could cause damage.

And so this month, because strawberries are “berry, berry nice”, just for your inspiration, On The Menu @ Tangie’s Kitchen is presenting a few of our favorite recipes featuring the seasonal and delicious strawberry this month.

Enjoy!