Final winter was a horrible time to be a strawberry in California — and perhaps an excellent worse time to be a strawberry farmer.
At Harry’s Berries in Oxnard, Calif., the rain got here down so laborious it flattened acres of strawberry beds “like pancakes,” mentioned the operations supervisor, Kristopher Gean, whose grandfather Harry Iwamoto began the farm greater than 50 years in the past. Every mattress needed to be dug up by hand, costing the farm greater than $100,000 in labor.
Even then, the berries that survived to make it to market have been bloated, insipid and costly. “Everybody on Instagram was complaining: ‘These berries don’t style that good,’” Mr. Gean mentioned. “They usually have been proper.”
From January to March, dangerous climate and bland berries have been the rule for farmers throughout California, who develop about 85 p.c of the business strawberries in the US. And the devastated crops, with their low yields, astronomically drove up costs for any berries you may discover.
Issues have lastly rotated: California berries are again available on the market, candy as ever, and at a extra affordable value. Strawberries from different areas are additionally turning into obtainable because the climate warms, making their scarlet manner into farmers’ markets and supermarkets throughout the nation.
And what higher option to rejoice their return than with a berry-laden dessert?
Whereas many strawberry-filled baked items get slightly soggy from the uncooked berries weeping moisture into the crumb or crust, these three new recipes are totally different. They deal with the berries earlier than baking — simmering, roasting or macerating them — to condense their juices and permit them to carry up higher in pastries and desserts.
This elegant, flaky tart simmers the strawberries briefly in a sugar syrup till they glisten like rubies. Then, they’re organized on high of a tangy cream cheese combination unfold on a sheet of puff pastry. The tart emerges from the oven with a crisp, buttery crust that stays that manner for hours, excellent for making forward.
Macerating the berries in sugar earlier than baking them into biscuits prevents them from turning into gummy. Then, you possibly can sandwich these biscuits round extra macerated berries and whipped cream for the fruitiest, juiciest double strawberry shortcakes conceivable, with poppy seeds for additional crunch.
Final however not least, in these tender almond desserts, wealthy with browned butter, the berries are briefly roasted earlier than being blended into the batter, for an intense taste and caramelized juices that lend an additional jammy vividness.
These methods will assist any berries present their greatest, they usually’re additionally nice to maintain in your again pocket for subsequent winter, in case dangerous climate and bland berries return.
However proper now, this 12 months’s berries are ripe and prepared for all of your baking and past.