Australian farmers have put out a strawberry SOS: buy more berries!
If you ever needed a (berry good) excuse to enjoy more juicy, plump and delicious strawberries, now is your time. COVID-19 lockdowns in NSW and Victoria have meant a drastic downturn in strawberry sales, which means there's currently a surplus.
You can pick up a punnet of Aussie strawbs in the supermarket right now for as little as $1 – a sweet deal for berry fans, but below the cost of production. Not great news for growers, who are facing low returns for their crops, but at least you can support them and take advantage of the cheaper prices by buying up big.
Their versatility and gentle sweetness means they're great in everything from smoothies to sorbets, cakes and desserts, or just as a snack on their own
Enticing with their glossy, ruby-red coats and rich with vitamin C, strawberries are not only tasty and nutritious, but their versatility and gentle sweetness means they're great in everything from smoothies to sorbets, cakes and desserts, or just as a snack on their own (dipped in chocolate, perhaps?). They're also perfect for freezing.
So pick up a punnet, or three, and put your kitchen appliances to work to turn out some of these ideas for berry-licious treats.
Strawberry smoothies are a berry good way to start the day.
Strawberry treats you can make in your blender
- What's better than a healthy homemade strawberry smoothie? Blend strawberries up with other berries (or fruit plus yoghurt, if you like) and any dairy or non-dairy milk – try banana, strawberry and almond milk, or strawberry, mango, coconut water and ice for a refreshing blend.
- Blitz strawberries for a healthy topping for ice cream or yoghurt for the kids (or big kids!).
- Nutritious overnight oats: blend strawberries and a spoonful of chia seeds and place in a glass jar or container with a lid. Add rolled oats and top with milk or almond milk and refrigerate, covered, overnight. The oats and chia will soak up the liquid to give you a ready-to-go brekkie in the morning.
- Banana-berry ice poles: blend fresh berries with yoghurt (or any milk), bananas (or any other fruit) and add honey or maple syrup for sweetness. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze.
Homemade berry popsicles are great to keep on hand for healthy snacks on warm days.
Strawberry treats you can make with your food processor/mixer
- Frozen cocktails/mocktails: slice, chop and freeze strawberries. Once frozen, blend with ice and a little sugar, then mix with either a white spirit or non-alcoholic option such as orange juice or flavoured soft drink or tonic, such as lemon-lime. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice to taste.
- Add strawberries to a muffin mix or use as a topping for pancakes and sponge cakes.
- Food-processor three-ingredient strawberry sorbet: process chopped, frozen strawberries with honey and a little warm water or fruit juice until smooth, then pour into a flat container or tray and freeze until frozen. Chop up and process again, then freeze until frozen again. It will become a scoopable consistency.
- Strawberry coulis: place one punnet of hulled strawberries into a saucepan with half a cup of sugar, bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries have softened. Puree using a stick blender or food processor and strain. Serve over ice cream, desserts or pancakes.
You can currently pick up strawberries for as little as $1 to $1.50 per punnet.
Strawberry treats you can make in your oven (or air fryer!) or on your cooktop
- Dehydrated strawberries: slice strawberries into 3mm slices and place on a flat baking tray, lined with baking paper. Preheat an oven to 90 C (fan-forced). Place the trays into the oven for about 2–3 hours until crispy (the required time will depend on the moisture content of the strawberries). They can be eaten as a snack, or processed into a fine strawberry powder to sprinkle on cakes. Store in an airtight container. (We haven't tested this yet so can't give specific instructions, but we have read that some punters have made dehydrated strawberries in their air fryer!).
- Strawberry jam: we have two recipes for strawberry jam we included as part of our strawberry jam supermarket taste test – one is made in the microwave and one is a strawberry jam made in a Thermomix. You can find both recipes in our strawberry jam buying guide.
- Chocolate-covered strawberries: melt chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. Dip whole strawberries in the chocolate and lay on a flat tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate until set.
Some frozen berry products available from supermarkets are imported – if you buy these products, it means you're not only skipping Aussie produce, but your food is travelling extra air miles.
Fresh strawberries freeze extremely well, so why not buy up a few punnets now while they're cheap and keep them frozen? Not only will you have a readymade stash of fresh, delicious fruit in the freezer, but you'll be further supporting Australian farmers.
You can freeze strawberries whole, chopped or blended, and if you store them correctly, they will keep for six months or more
You can freeze strawberries whole, chopped or blended, and if you store them correctly, they will keep for six months or more. If freezing whole or chopped, freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet so they don't all stick together.
Once frozen, put them in an airtight sealed container or resealable plastic bag. You can also blend them then pour the mixture into ice-cube trays to freeze, so you can pop out the cubes to use in smoothies or desserts as needed.
How to make strawberries last longer
If you're eating or preparing the strawberries within a day or so, you can keep them at room temperature, otherwise it's best to keep them in the fridge.
Don't wash them all at once – you should only wash them as you eat/prepare them, as they easily soak up water and can go mushy. If you notice one strawberry going mouldy, remove it, as it could spoil the rest of the bunch (but we suggest you blend them up or use in one of our ideas above before this happens!).
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.