Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops
For locavores in Florida, the holiday food season keeps on giving well into the New Year, providing a sneak peak of spring with first-of-the-season strawberries hitting farmers markets in mid-January.
Our growing season is short but sweet, weather-dependent and unpredictable, sometimes ending as early as March or extending as late as May. And that’s when our strawberry-growing friends in California enter the picture, extending our season well into September.
The Monterey Bay area of California is an atmospheric marvel. Jagged coastal mountains collide with the Pacific Ocean producing a climate-related dream for cool-weather crops like strawberries. The consistently cool and foggy nights work to intensify the berries’ natural sugars, and the warm, sunny days encourage them to grow plump and juicy.
Speaking with growers, like Tom Jones from Providence Farms, their first priority is feeding the soil. Whether conventional or organic, the soil is treated in much the same way, being well-fed with organic compounds to grow healthy plants. Healthy plants need less disease and pest management, which was evident in the near perfect leaves and berries on the organic plants being harvested every three days.
Berries are hand-picked before the early morning fog burns off, which means less stress for the plants, packed as they are picked, and then immediately transported to various nearby distributors. Once delivered, they’re shipped in less than 24 hours to markets across the country. In California, the strawberries often hit the markets that same day, with no more than a two-day travel time for other states.
Ask any farmer their favorite way to enjoy the strawberries they grow and they’ll tell you the same thing: straight off the vine. We like ours lightly sweetened and served with cream, like in our Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops.
Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops
- 1 pound fresh or frozen California strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup organic sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pint organic heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cut strawberries into quarters. In a medium saucepan heat strawberries, water, 3 tablespoons of the sugar and salt over medium heat. Bring to boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until berries are soft, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat; using a hand-held blender, puree strawberry mixture in pan until smooth. Return pan to heat and continue to simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add cream. Using a hand mixer whip cream on medium-low speed until it begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add remaining sugar and continue to whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Add vanilla and whip until combined; set aside.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of the strawberry mixture into small shot glasses, paper cups or ice pop molds, followed by 2 tablespoons of whipped cream. Continue to alternate layers of strawberry and cream until the mold is full. Using a straw or skewer, stir the strawberry and cream mixture to create a swirling pattern. Insert a wooden ice pop stick or plastic spoon into the mold and place in the freezer. Freeze 3 to 4 hours or until set.
- To remove the ice pops from the molds, run warm water on the outside of the molds and gently pull the ice pop stick to remove. Serve cold.
A special thank you goes out to the gals at the California Strawberry Commission for the amazing farm tours and their gracious hospitality!