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Test Kitchen tips: Strawberries 101 (plus 29 recipes)

Strawberry pie

With strawberries showing up in the market now, how do you know what to look for? Here are some tips on choosing, storing and using berries, courtesy of Food Editor Russ Parsons:

  • Choose the best berries by aroma, not color or size. The flavor of strawberries is complex; only by sniffing around will you be able to get the best. Once you've found the ones that smell the sweetest, check the underside of the box to make sure there's no spoilage.
  • Store strawberries at room temperature for as long as possible. The chemical compounds that make up much of the berries' flavor are cold-sensitive, and chilling will diminish the taste.
  • Wash strawberries in plenty of cold running water, but do it before removing the green caps. This helps prevent the berries from soaking up moisture and diluting the flavor.
  • Remember that sugar draws moisture out of berries. In some cases, this is bad -- if you want the berries to remain firm, sugar them just before serving or they'll go limp. In other cases it is a big help -- sugar strawberries for ice cream well in advance of freezing and you won't end up with ice cubes in your ice cream.
  • The red color of strawberries comes from the pigment anthocyanin, which is not heat-stable. If you cook strawberries alone, that lovely crimson color will turn to a bruised purple. But acidity stabilizes the pigment, so add some lemon or orange juice (or bake the berries with rhubarb) and the color will remain red.

Now that you know what to look for, what would you like to do with them? For some ideas, we've included a list of 29 recipes (including that strawberry pie above) below the jump.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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-- Noelle Carter
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Photo: Strawberry pie. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Strawberry pie

Bruleed strawberries and cream

Chocolate-glazed nut torte with strawberries in Sephardi syrup

Quark crepes with fresh strawberries

Strawberry shortcake skewers

Cinnamon toast with lavender strawberries

Water-based strawberry gelato

Milk-based strawberry gelato

Orange-flavored shortcakes with strawberries and cream

Hazelnut-chocolate oatmeal with strawberries and cream

Buckwheat blini with Greek yogurt and strawberries

Strawberry-coconut layer cake

Old-fashioned strawberry shortcake

Tapioca with strawberry gelee and fresh strawberries

Strawberry dumplings

Strawberry-infused sake

Strawberry preserves

Strawberry bonbons

Strawberry crostata

Agua fresca with strawberry and jamaica flowers

Cinnamon tortilla chips with strawberry-avocado salsa

Mixed berry crostata

Spinach and strawberry salad with thyme-infused vinaigrette

Strawberry Siam parfaits

FraƮche's strawberry sangria

Honey shortcakes with honey-pine nut gelato

Flourless chocolate cake with Zinfandel-macerated strawberries

Kaiserschmarren

Strawberry milkshake

 
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