We are right in the middle of the dog days of summer. It’s HOT in Puerto Rico right now. The 2015 incarnation of El Niño, the warming of the Pacific Ocean, has brought upon the Caribbean an uncharacteristically dry summer. It has been twenty one years since the last time we had a drought this severe, aggravating the summer heat. On the upside, there’s nothing but sunny days for those looking to have fun outdoors. It’s also the perfect time to increase our intake of fruit and refreshing healthy treats. Sweet summer strawberries to the rescue!
Keeping our cool in the heat
Staying cool while the temperature outside blazes comes down to staying well hydrated. Fruit infused waters are a great beverage for staying cool and taking in antioxidants. However, I am not patient – waiting overnight to enjoy fruity water is not for me. I like muddling a few ripe berries with lime, adding a teaspoon of agave syrup, and topping it off with crushed ice and fizzy mineral water. Instant refreshment and gratification!
Clean strawberries last longer
Strawberries are at their sweetest, tastiest and cheapest at this time of the year. Unfortunately, due to the time it takes the fresh berries to make it to the supermarkets in the island, some of the berries in the basket might have traces of mold.
A few years ago, a fellow food blogger taught me a trick to solve this problem. Soaking berries for a few minutes in water doused in vinegar or lemon/lime juice will kill off the mold. I do this on the salad spinner. Place the berries in the salad spinner basket and cover with water. Add a splash of vinegar (about a quarter cup) and gently spin the berries in the water. After three minutes, remove the basket insert and discard the vinegary water. Spin the strawberries again until all excess liquid leaves the fruit. Line the clamshell or better yet – an airtight container – with paper towels and store the berries in the refrigerator.
Growing your own strawberries
Although the current weather conditions are not the best for growing strawberries, I’ll try planting my own at home once the drought is over. Agrochic has an excellent tutorial on how to grow and harvest strawberries. My favorite part of the article is the troubleshooting guide. Contributing gardener Marilyn Cancel Alvarado describes common signs for different illnesses, deficiencies and pests and how to treat strawberry plants for them. The thoroughness of the article puts even the greenest of home gardeners at ease.
More summer strawberry deliciousness
Need more ideas for how to keep cool this summer? Try one of my favorite strawberry treats: