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“I can’t do it,” he said, crouching down low enough for his head to slump to his knees.
I sighed, dropping another strawberry into my box. At 6.5 years old, this is normal behavior for my son. The new normal, until it’s not. (I hope.) “OK,” I said. “We’ll keep picking, and you can just wait for us.”
My friend and I carried on with our task, pulling strawberries off the plants and adding them to the ever-growing mounds in our boxes. This is my fifth year picking strawberries, and I’m no slouch in the field. Even though it’s tough on the legs, it only takes 10 minutes or so to fill an 8-pound-capacity box.
Suddenly my son popped up, grabbed his box, and ran past me toward the end of the strawberry row. I smiled to myself, seeing that he had decided picking berries was much more fun than pouting and poking at the dirt, after all.
In the end he filled up a whole box by himself, bringing our total to 40 pounds. We had to stop ourselves from going for another box and picking more.
The problem with berry picking — for me, at least — is that I get really into it, and once I start seeing perfect berries, I want to pick them all. Leaving them behind is a hard thing to do, but I know another family will find them, parting the leaves and grabbing the best berries.
(That’s how you should do it, by the way. Everyone else just grabs the ones on the edges, but there are gorgeous ruby fruits just sitting under the leaves in the middle of the row.)
Coming home with that many berries is daunting, and we immediately made a batch of jam to dispense of 5 pounds. My friend took a box, and then I stared down those remaining 24 pounds for a while, cursing my earlier enthusiasm, as I always do.
Those berries were frozen, eaten with whipped cream, cooked into another batch of jam, and then made into a lovely tart to share with my fellow Austin food bloggers.
I don’t have anything against cooking strawberries, but I always love to make at least one dish each spring that features them in their sweet perfection. This tart has a simple graham cracker crust and is filled with a ricotta honey mixture before topping it with macerated strawberries.
I added mint to the strawberries, but other herbs would be equally wonderful — I love basil with strawberries, and thyme is also a fun herb to add to fruit. Use the best strawberries you can get for this, because their natural sweetness will really make the dish.
Strawberry Mint Ricotta Tart
- 12 full-size graham crackers
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted, melted
- 1 pound strawberries, washed and hulled
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup whole-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a food processor (or using a bowl and the bottom of a glass), blitz the graham crackers until they are crumbs. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar, then mix in melted butter until mixture looks like wet sand.
- Press mixture into a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together strawberries, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, mint, and lemon juice. Let stand 20 minutes.
- Stir honey into ricotta, then spread into prepared crust. Pour strawberries and accumulated juices over the top. (Alternately, you can drain the juices into a saucepan and reduce until syrupy, then pour over the finished tart.)
- Serve immediately.
More strawberry recipes you might like: