Strawberries – A Bit of Background
Strawberries have been eaten since at least Roman days but didn’t catch on as a luscious treat until the 1300s. Charles V of France planted more than a thousand strawberry plants at the Louvre in Paris. (Now a museum, then a palace). Shakespeare mentioned strawberries in his 1590s “Richard III”: “When I was last in Holborn, I saw good strawberries in your garden there.”
These were most likely tiny berries like the wild berries you may see when hiking (image: strawberries in 1485) but one variety in the 1600s had berries as large as a plum or, on a rare year with perfect conditions, a peach. A variety found in North America in the early 1600s, F. virginiana, became one of the parents of the large strawberries we have today.
Why “straw” berry? There’s debate on that. I’d heard it was because the plants were covered with straw to protect them through the winter, but there are many other more scholarly thoughts. Some say it refers to the way the plant’s runners strew (an old word) or stray away from the plant. (Anyone who has grown strawberries knows that the plants have long runners that are a nuisance and keeping them from straying is a time consuming task.)
As a side note, in Alaska where I’m from, the summer is cool enough that strawberries grow all summer long, not only in the spring or early summer as they do in many other places. In my part of Tennessee, the strawberry season is already over so we’re importing them from other places.
Strawberries are delicious and nutritious. They contain good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate.
I tested this recipe with both cream and coconut milk. The flavors worked best with cream but it’s still tasty with coconut milk.
Hot, it’s delicious over a waffle or pancakes. Cooled or cold from the fridge, it’s great on a dessert such as cheesecake. I had an oops moment when I realized on the second batch that I had grabbed the vanilla stevia off the shelf both times instead of plain. It was a nice addition so I adjusted the recipe to add a dash of vanilla but you can use vanilla stevia if you have it and eliminate the vanilla. This is a no-sugar, orange variation of my mother-in-law’s well-loved strawberry sauce.
Combine in a saucepan:
1 cup sliced strawberries
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon orange juice (fresh squeezed is always better)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, optional (if you want a bigger orange taste)
Heat to boiling then reduce heat to simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes. While it cooks, combine in a bowl or cup:
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon arrowroot or tapioca
(I found that the coconut cream version needed more thickening than the cream version. If your sauce hasn’t thickened as you’d like, mix a small amount of water with an additional teaspoon of starch and add, again off the burner.)
When strawberries are cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the starch mixture. Replace on the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring.
1-3 drops liquid stevia* (I used two drops of NuNaturals)
1/4 cup either cream or coconut milk (including a good amount of the coconut milk’s cream)
dash of vanilla
*Strawberries can be very sweet or somewhat tart. If yours are sweet, start with one drop.
This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, and Gluten-Free Wednesdays on The Gluten-Free Homemaker. (See my earlier interview with Linda from The Gluten-Free Homemaker.)
Strawberry photo courtesy USDA