Saturday, November 18, 2017
Cooking

Get ready for the Florida Strawberry Festival with some fun facts

RECOMMENDED READING


If you're like me, you're buying them two or three containers at a time right now.

It's strawberry season, and the fruit is abundant. The Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off this week as well, and we have little red jewels coming out of our ears.

Food editor Michelle Stark has been home making quick strawberry jam, and has the recipe for you in a quick how-two video on our Tampa Bay Times — Food Facebook page. And as far as fun, we have everything you need to have a blast at the festival, including an interview with performers Little Big Town and a full schedule of entertainment.

You'll no doubt be popping the sweet treats all over the Plant City festival grounds. That in mind, here are some things you should know about strawberries:

• Florida is actually a challenging place to grow strawberries, food critic Laura Reiley recently reported. It's hot and humid here, and we don't have enough so-called chill hours at night to make the berries happy. Add bugs and rain, and it's not always smooth going.

• They're invented in labs. Scientists at the University of Florida work to create berries that work well in Florida. They have names like the Festival, the Florida Radiance, and the new kid in town, the Sweet Sensation, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the state's strawberry plantings.

• The perfect storage temperature for strawberries is 32 to 36 degrees, according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Use the crisper drawer for the best storage, but they only last for seven days under ideal conditions, so eat up.

• I always eat mine straight out of the fridge, but apparently that's a rookie move. The association says strawberries have the best flavor at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to eat them. And don't wash them or take off the caps until you're ready to bite.

• The strawberry milkshake at Parkesdale Farm Market is really, really good. I haven't had one in a long time, but I can still taste it as I sit here and type. It tastes extra good if you sit in the giant strawberry throne at the farms while drinking it. It tastes extra-extra good if you wear one of the prop crowns and take a photo.

Comments
How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

Perfect your crust. Try new filling recipes. Learn some decorating tricks. And prepare for the biggest pie day of the year: Thanksgiving.   From apple to thyme You’ve got the crust down. Now it’s time to choose a filling for your holid...
Published: 11/17/17
Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

From appetizers to pies and everything in between, we’re here to help you put together a low-stress Thanksgiving spread. Ideas for sidesThese recipes go beyond the traditional, with a corn casserole, Brussels sprout salad and moreSee what our food ed...
Published: 11/17/17
Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

There are probably a handful of essentials, things you must have on the Thanksgiving table lest some family members begin to riot. But I find there are often a couple of slots open for new things, chances to get weird or creative or, gasp, healthy. ...
Published: 11/17/17
How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

As far as we’re concerned, anything you can make in advance of actual Thanksgiving Day is a good thing, and this make-ahead gravy fits the bill. Plus, Tucker Shaw of America’s Test Kitchen says it tastes just as good as if you made it wi...
Published: 11/17/17
How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

Planning a really good menu is the stealth approach to being a really good cook. Here are some tips from the experts. New York Times Put some thought into the menu What leaves an impression is not only the dishes you can make, but also how they t...
Published: 11/17/17
Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey is the unquestioned star of the Thanksgiving meal. It can be the most daunting part as well. But with a little planning and care, it doesn’t have to be.   Before you start • A decent roasting pan, one heavy enough that it wo...
Published: 11/16/17
Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

If you want to spend more time with your family and friends this holiday season and less time in the kitchen, our judges suggest serving Hormel’s mashed sweet potatoes. No need to wash, peel and heat potatoes. Just pop the container in the microwave ...
Published: 11/16/17
From the food editor: An expert weighs in on how to stay calm this Thanksgiving

From the food editor: An expert weighs in on how to stay calm this Thanksgiving

I can tell right away that Tucker Shaw has thought about Thanksgiving a lot, and not just as a home cook. As the editor in chief of Cook’s Country, a member of America’s Test Kitchen and the former dining critic and food editor at the Denver Post, Sh...
Published: 11/16/17
How to make a perfect pie crust (with recipes)

How to make a perfect pie crust (with recipes)

When I tell people I grew up in a family of pie bakers, it’s easy to imagine I’m bragging. My mother’s pies are legendary — rich, velvety custard fillings or mounded fruit pies, each cradled in an ornately decorated crust, gol...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Five ideas for meat pies

Five ideas for meat pies

Sweeney Todd ruined meat pies for me. e_SBlt For a while after seeing the famous musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in high school (and then again after watching the 2007 movie starring Johnny Depp), the thought of meat pies m...
Published: 11/15/17