What makes this summer pie is so irresistible? Perhaps it’s the whole, glazed strawberries or the luscious layer of whipped cream cheese filling in a graham cracker crust. Or the fragrance that wafts up from the ripe, deep red berries? Then again, consider tossing your fork and swirling the strawberries in the cream with your fingers. No matter what—it’s pure pleasure to the last bite.
For the cook, it’s an easy, make-ahead pie. Just one important thing to remember: select the strawberries with care as the pie depends almost entirely on them for its flavor. Here are a few tips that will make your Strawberries and Cream pie a delicious showstopper.
First, trust me when I say never, never buy supermarket strawberries for this pie, as they will disappoint. Bred for size, shipping and long shelf life, these berries lack flavor, fragrance and depth of color.
Count on a trusted farmers market, independent produce dealer or farm stand and don’t be afraid to be picky. You’ll find the most wonderful small to medium sized, older strawberry varieties that are delicious and nutritious.
Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further—so don’t waste your money on mediocre berries in hopes that they’ll improve over time. It’s better to select perfectly ripe berries and enjoy them within a day or two.
- Smell and examine your strawberries carefully. They should be fragrant, fairly firm and a deep red color with attached green caps.
- Promptly discard any moldy, shriveled or soft, squishy strawberries found among the good ones. Also get rid of berries with loose, discolored caps. All of these flaws are signs of age and possible mold, which can spread quickly and ruin the whole bunch.
- Do not purchase tightly packed baskets of strawberries that only reveal the top layer. They could be damaged and decaying underneath.
- Reject bleeding baskets of strawberries—another sign of age and decay.
Strawberries are best eaten within a day of purchase, but will keep for 2–3 days in the refrigerator when stored properly. For very best flavor, bring them to room temperature before using.
- Store berries unwashed, then rinse just prior to use.
- Store strawberries in the refrigerator in a paper bag or an airtight plastic container lined with paper towels to absorb moisture. Never store them in plastic bags, which speed decomposition.
- Do not store strawberries on the open counter exposed to sunlight and high temperatures.
- Check stored berries daily and remove any moldy, shriveled or soft ones. This helps keep the rest from rotting as well.
And now, the Strawberries and Cream Pie.
Print out a copy of my Strawberries and Cream Pie recipe for your convenience.