Strawberries mark the beginning of a long and fruitful (I had to go there!) season of berries in Portland. Though we had a mediocre year of strawberries due to some serious gloomy weather in May and June, I still managed to beat my personal record of last year’s strawberry haul.
Since getting our chest freezer, my husband Dave and I have become obsessed with filling that freezer with as many pounds of berries as possible so that we can access frozen sunshine and sugar in January. Last year we picked a respectable 27 pounds of strawberries and froze 16 pounds. This year we picked 45 pounds and froze 27 of those. Woohoo!
There are days I wonder what the hell we’re going to do with that much strawberry but I didn’t have much trouble using last year’s bounty. It took a minute to get going and after some hesitation, we used them for:
Rhubarb Strawberry Oat Bars
The strawberry mousse was my favorite use of them. The recipe is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Molly Katzen. The original recipe title is “Fresh Strawberry Mousse” but if you use amazing strawberries like the Hood varietals we pick, it’ll be awesome with frozen berries too. I remember my mother making this recipe for a potluck years and years ago when we lived in a tiny little South-eastern Oregon town. I was thrilled at the prospect of sugar in the form of cream and berries but I also recall the color was nothing like what I made this past March for a birthday potluck. In the high desert town we lived in, strawberries were shipped in and made a pale pink mousse. The local Hoods make a vivid pink dessert.
Hood Strawberry Mousse
4 cups Hood variety strawberries (defrosted if frozen and whole is fine)
6 Tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (regular fresh lemon juice will work but if you can get Meyer – use it!)
1 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon peel
1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped
Place strawberries in a medium saucepan. Heat until hot (if using fresh, 5 to 8 minutes until soupy). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the same saucepan without washing it, combine the cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice and whisk until uniform.
Pour the still hot strawberries into the pan of sugar/cornstarch mixture. While stirring constantly, return the pan to the stove and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add the lemon rind.
Cool the mixture to room temperature and puree in a blender until smooth. Chill the mixture. Fold into the whipped cream and serve.
P.S. – I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m convinced you could make a dairy-free version of this using whipped coconut cream. I hope to try it out and see how it works.