Monday, June 9, 2014
Green strawberries aren't a new breed of strawberry like pineberries, they're exactly what they sound like: unripe strawberries. You see them once in a while at some farmers markets, but they're not nearly as common as green tomatoes or chiles - I had to make arrangements with Kimballs to have them picked for me.
The green is really attractive - a sort of ivory green before it starts to yellow as it ripens to red - though that color does not survive cooking the way the deep red of ripe strawberries does. This ivory color is actually a sort of intermediate stage - if you're picking your own, let the strawberries grow a bit to reach this stage rather than picking the fruit as soon as it appears. Those earlier green-green or "unripe unripe" as opposed to "ripe unripe" strawberries are harder with less flavor.
Why use green strawberries? Purely as a change of pace and to better understand the strawberry. It's not like with tomatoes, where cooking green tomatoes is a good way to deal with the glut of red tomatoes you would otherwise have, or a way to use those tomatoes you get at the end of the season that won't have time to ripen.
However, there are some similarities to green tomatoes, mainly that, compared to ripe strawberries, green strawberries are firmer and more tart. The strawberry flavor is still there, just fainter and without the sugar to bring it out. There's another flavor too, which I guess is the flavor of the chlorophyll or whatever's making them green, a flavor that goes away when the strawberry ripens.
So what do we do with these.
The first thing I did was macerate some overnight with some sugar to make preserves - same basic method I use for ripe strawberries: macerate overnight, heat up until they just start to soften, turn off heat, let sit overnight, add more sugar and boil until jam-thick.
The ivory green is gone. The syrup of the jam is a color somewhere between golden raisins and cream soda, and the chunks of fruit show up in colors the paint swatch people might call Sun Belt Peach, Burnt Mountain Dew, and Foreclosed Lawn. It's a tart jam, but it's also surprisingly complex in flavor - far more than green tomatoes can yield, for instance, another difference there.
I've got more green strawberries in a jar of whiskey to make green strawberry bounce, some mixed with rhubarb for a pie, and some macerating in sugar to make green strawberry shrub. Tonight we'll have sliced raw green strawberries in salad and see how that goes.