Today has started out rather foggy outside. It rained last night, couple that with the fog this morning and right now has that feel of the start of some hazy, muggy weather. You know that feeling? The sense that nature is slowing down to cope with the heat and humidity of summer? It will be the first of this weather for this summer season, which feels a lot more normal than last year when the hot humid weather started hitting us in May.

Summer also means that the new crops of fruits and vegetables will be coming in. That means that we wont need to be eating fruits and vegetables brought in from far flung areas but instead can eat what is grown and harvested right in the area. Right now, the strawberry season has just started. Now, strawberries is one fruit that I really only eat when the season is on.

Fresh picked strawberries, like from my neighbour across the street, can’t even begin to compare to those shipped in from away. Sweet, juicy, plump — the flavour just bursts in your mouth. And then of course, strawberry shortcakes or even just a bowl of them to nibble at. They can be a very versatile fruit.

We’ve used them in salads at the branch dinners. This is one of my favourite salad recipes using strawberries that we’ve used: Strawberry Spinach Salad.  A simple and quick variation on this is to toss baby spinach, blueberries and sliced strawberries in a raspberry vinaigrette for a very light salad. We avoid the use of nuts in our dishes but sliced almonds can be a good addition to either salad.

We’re always checking out other possibilities for dishes at our dinners. We like to serve our guests as much variety as possible. Here are some strawberry recipes I’ve found and saved for future consideration.

This berry medley is a nice variation on the simple bowl of strawberries. The lemon syrup on it will pump up the flavour. The sugar is needed to thicken the syrup and I’d not be inclined to substitute artificial sweetener, it’s liable to diminish the flavour. Just use a minimal amount of syrup to add to the flavour without overwhelming the sweet.

This recipe is definitely on my gotta try list for the branch. It’s Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars. For the branch though we’d likely do some alterations. We’re always aware of the level of ingredient costs. We’d likely use a graham cracker crust, maybe even the chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Some ginger mixed into the crumbs would replace the ginger in the snaps. Lemon desserts are always popular at the branch, add strawberries and you got a winner. Some fresh cut strawberries on the top of each serving would likely just finish it off nicely.

Rhubarb is available this time of year and pairs nicely with strawberries especially in a crisp. A crisp is basically a base of stewed fruit, thickened (usually with some tapioca) and then a crust of oatmeal mixed with butter and brown sugar on the top. The slight tart of rhubarb paired with the sweet of the strawberries makes a great balance. Warm with a bit of ice cream is a great way to serve it.

And of course, what is strawberry season without a way to save some of them for later use. The easiest way is to freeze the strawberries. Wash and hull the berries, spread them on cookie trays and place in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can transfer them to freezer bags for later use.

Jam is another popular way to preserve strawberries. From simple freezer jam to more involved recipes there are dozens of ways to make strawberry jam. Allrecipes.com is one of my favourites sites to hunt out recipe ideas. They currently have just over 100 recipes for strawberry jams. I may need to go exploring but first, I think I’ll get myself some fresh strawberries to savour. Care to join me?