All About Martha's Strawberry Patch, Including Her Favorite Recipes to Make with the Ripe Fruits
One of my great joys each June is watching my two young grandchildren, Jude and Truman, searching rows of bright-green plants in my garden to find sweet, red strawberries hiding among the leaves. Their squeals of delight-and the ensuing silence as they gobble up what they have found-are worth every bit of effort that goes into tending a sizable patch.
But there are many other reasons to grow this seasonal delicacy at home. You can choose your favorite varieties, from tiny, flavor-packed alpines to large, juicy classic ones. You can extend the season by planting early, midseason, and late-bearing cultivars. And most importantly, you can cultivate them organically. Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of conventional produce containing the most pesticides.
I grow them in raised rows about 20 inches apart, mulched with straw so the fruit can ripen on a nice, clean bed. I also fertilize and add compost annually, to maintain a healthy and bountiful harvest. To keep production up, every two years or so I refresh the beds by adding sucker plants I've propagated, or newly purchased seedlings.
I plant dozens of strawberry varieties, including 'Mara des Bois', 'Seascape', and 'Quinault'. They stop ripening when they're plucked, so I wait until they are fully red to do so. While my grandchildren and I love to eat the berries right off the stems, there are always plenty more to turn into delicious summer desserts, such as these favorites.
Strawberry Ice Cream
Homemade ice cream is always a good idea, especially when it's loaded with ripe summer fruit. Here, strawberries pull double duty: They're puréed for the base, then macerated with vodka or tequila and folded in after churning.
Layers of buttery puff pastry, sweet strawberries, and tangy, vanilla-flecked whipped cream come together in this impressive summer dessert that's greater than the sum of its parts.
Strawberry Gelée with Rosé Granita
Strawberries play a role in every component of this dessert: A purée flavors the light gelée and icy rosé granita, and sliced fruit is suspended in the gelée as well as scattered over the top.