JEFF TIEDEMAN: Spring thingsCheck out the deals in supermarkets on strawberries,asparagus.
The calendar may say it is spring, and the weekend temperatures that we experienced along with the melt may have made us think it is, too, but a quick look outside today will tell you that we haven’t seen the last of winter.
Of course, it will be a couple of months before we’ll have produce from our own gardens or the farmers market, but luckily, we don’t have to wait until the weather cooperates before we can enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables.
If you’ve strolled down the produce aisles at the supermarket lately, you’ll notice a lot of the foods we associate with spring are abundant.
Two of my favorites are asparagus and strawberries. Prices on them are as low as they get, and we’ve taken advantage of deals on both.
We’ve prepared the asparagus a couple of different ways. The first time, it was broiled along with salmon that was marinated in a maple syrup-apple juice mixture. Then, we had some steamed asparagus served with pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse breasts that were slow-cooked in a barbecue sauce.
We’ve used the strawberries, on the other hand, in our morning bowls of oatmeal and as snacks. While we do still have some frozen raspberries that we grew last summer, fresh fruit just seems so much better on cereal.
For those of your thinking about purchasing either asparagus or strawberries, here are a few tips for buying and storing them:
— When purchasing asparagus, look for firm, straight, uniform-size spears. The tips should be closed with crisp stalks.
— Use asparagus within a few days of purchase. For a little longer storage, place bundled stalks upright in a bowl filled with 1 inch of water and refrigerate. Or wrap the cut ends in moist paper towels. Cover the towel with plastic wrap; refrigerate.
— To clean, soak asparagus in cold water. Cut or snap off the tough, white portion.
— When buying strawberries at the grocery store, pick the plumpest, most fragrant ones.
— Strawberries should be firm, bright and fresh-looking with no mold or bruises and fresh green stems) and without dark spots.
— Strawberries do not ripen after they have been harvested, so choose fully ripened ones.
— Select berries that are in dry, unstained containers (Stained ones may indicate oversoft berries that are not freshly picked).
— Often, prepackaged strawberries have the less desirable fruit near the bottom, so check the bottom of the container before buying.
— When refrigerating berries, discard moldy ones. Mold spreads quickly.
One final word: Close your eyes when eating fresh strawberries and asparagus — and dream of spring.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.