Late-Season Strawberries for Shabbat
The last of the season’s local strawberries at a New York farmers’ market this week.
Strawberries are on my mind, even though the season is winding down. Beautiful in form and color with a sweet, mouth-watering aroma, they are irresistible and I am still picking the last of them. They do not have a specifically Jewish connection, but they have always had a presence in American Jewish cuisine, in both Old- and New-World traditions. And when we incorporate them in our Sabbath celebration, they assume a near-holy dimension.
When we operated a backcountry farm, our strawberry harvests were huge — but getting them to market was a problem. That’s when I developed many ways to serve them to our guests, as well as ways to preserve them for the winter months, as described in my first book, “Old-Fashioned Jams, Jellies, and Sweet Preserves.” And when the celebration of Shabbat became a part of our lives, I adapted these ways for the occasion, not only for desserts, as you would expect, but in strawberry-inspired breakfasts or brunch on Saturdays when dairy foods often come to the fore.
If you don’t grow your own, look for strawberries in city-wide green markets and farmers’ markets around the country where they may be available into July. At Whole Foods and specialty markets strawberry season runs longer.
Jo Ann Gardner lives in the Adirondacks where she and her husband maintain a small farm with extensive gardens. Her latest book is “Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants.” She can be reached via her website www.joanngardnerbooks.com