In Season: Strawberries

Kim Conte
Food & Party

recession guidestrawberries

One way to save serious cash at the grocery store is to pay close attention to low in-season prices. Not only does produce taste the best when it's in season, but you can buy a lot of it on sale now and save for later. For example, right now strawberries are in season. My grocery store has 1 pound of strawberries on sale for $3.39 AND a buy-one-get-one free discount!

What the heck am I going to do with so many strawberries? First, I'm going to show you how to make a great cheesecake dessert with some of them now...Then, I'm going to tell you how you can freeze the rest for later.

Strawberries now...

I can't wait to try this Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl from my Spring 2009 Kraft Food & Family Magazine:

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

3 tablespoons sugar

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened

1.5 cups  cold milk

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping, divided

2 cups frozen pound cake cubes (1 inch)

1 square  BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Combine berries and sugar; refrigerate until ready to use. Beat Neufchatel cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; mix well. Whisk in 1.5 cups Cool Whip. Spoon half the Neufchatel cheese mixture into 2-1/2-qt. bowl. Top with layers of cake, berries and remaining Neufchatel cheese mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours. Melt chocolate; drizzle over trifle. Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Strawberries later...

Too many strawberries and not enough time to eat them? Freezing strawberries are a great way to preserve them for up to six months. Use frozen strawberries for desserts, to top cereal in the morning, or to blend into a quick smoothie with yogurt.

Here's how to freeze fresh strawberries:

1. Wash strawberries with cold water and vinegar to remove dirt and pesticide residue.

2. To freeze whole strawberries: Trim the green leaves off the top, as well as a bit of the fruit so that the strawberry can stand on it's end. Or, if you prefer them sliced, slice them. 

3. Dry strawberries thoroughly. This step is most important;otherwise your strawberries will clump together in the freezer. Gross.

4. Place dried strawberries on a cookie sheet (not-touching each other).

5. Place cookie sheet in the freezer.

6. Once completely frozen, remove from freezer. Transfer to an air-tight container or plastic zipper-lock bag, and store in freezer.

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