Strawberry season is so close we can almost taste the juicy sweetness! While berries get trucked up from the south for the winter and spring, May is when Maryland’s you-pick fields and produce stands wow us with their field-fresh taste and flavor.
For the months when berries are plentiful, you’ll want to have all your favorite recipes on deck to take advantage, whether you prefer warm and gooey or cool and creamy. Or both!
As soon as those berries start turning red, a visit to a local produce stand or pick-your-own patch can get you the star ingredient for a bevy of great dishes.
Local options Family Affair Farm in Cordova, Emily’s Produce in Cambridge, Godfrey’s in Sudlersville, Lockbriar in Chestertown. For more options, visit
To our tastebuds, berries are sweet and a treat, but they are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories so you can easily justify them in your favorite breakfast dishes.
Parfaits can be a great part of breakfast or a cool, protein packed snack anytime. They also make a good option for individual and customizable servings. Keep your favorite kind of yogurt on hand and mix in your fresh berries with granola, cookie crumbles or other crunch. If you have a crowd, make it a “build your own bar” and let guests make their own creation.
Other morning ideas include brightening up your breakfast casserole bakes, breads and muffins by folding some in. Mix berries into the batter or dice them up to sprinkle on a stack of pancakes or waffles, or throw some into cereal or oatmeal.
Breakfast on the run? Can’t beat a berry smoothie, blended with your choice of milk and frozen bananas.
You could also try your hand at making a jam or syrup to prolong your berry haul for your breakfast toast or your evening ice cream sundaes. The process for both syrups and jams is not as intimidating as you may think and plenty of recipes can be made on the stovetop and then thrown in the freezer for an off season treat.
While several strawberry dishes you can justify and sneak into breakfast, there are also some that are decadent, tried and true, dessert-only options too.
One of the most popular is of course strawberry shortcake. These days though, the cake part can be anything you can imagine that will soak in the berry juices and ice cream. For a crowd, make it a sheet cake. For a day when you have time, make it with biscuits or when you don’t, use the pre-made individual shortcakes. A day when you’re feeling fun, use glazed donuts sliced down the middle. And if you have the hankering on May 28, get in line at the Ridgely Strawberry Festival for one of their legendary desserts.
The vibrant berry color is so lovely, they make “dump and go” recipes both easy to pull off and beautiful! Pull out your trifle bowl and mix the berries in with pound cake or angel food cake, accompanied by a cream filling that can be as simple as instant pudding and whipped cream.
With a little more time you could whip up a cheese cake or custard filling. Are you a lover of chocolate? Swap out the cake for brownies, or flavor your filler with chocolate.
Trifles can also be a great “first recipe” for littles, as most of the cutting can be done with a butter knife and no cooking — or heating up your kitchen — is required.
Strawberry season also marks when the days heat up into scorchers, there’s also a bevy of frozen desserts. Have your little helpers to help you make strawberry ice cream, blend up berries for frozen sorbet, or pour into popsicle molds for a frosty treat.
You could also cool down by sprucing up a favorite drink. Cut the tartness of regular lemonade with some strawberries thrown in, or let them be the star of the show entirely in a strawberry daiquiri, with or without alcohol.
When you are whipping up your berry concoctions, don’t forget that strawberries also play well with other berries. Mix and match flavors with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries when seasons overlap. A mixed berry cobbler is hard to beat!
One of my favorite recipes I’ve ever stolen from a friend is fresh berry salad — cut up strawberries, blueberries and white chocolate chips. If our blackberry bushes happen to coincide, I swap out the blueberries. It looks delightful, is great for patriotic holidays and doesn’t have much added sugar. Plus, if there happens to be any leftover, I can toss it on my yogurt the rest of the week.
Another great berry accompaniment is bananas. They offer aesthetics, texture and flavor, whether slices of bananas themselves or the banana flavor of a pudding.
Now, if all of these desserts are tempting your taste buds but you’re really trying to keep a diet on track, don’t worry.
Chopped strawberries can be part of a show stopping salad with your favorite leafy greens, nuts, soft cheeses and other salad favorites.
You could also blend them into an infused balsamic dressing.