I have no patience for hulling. It looks nice and all, but honestly, when you have a 4 year old chanting for food, you want to get the job done as quickly as possible, which means decisively lopping off the top part of the fruit, leaves and all. Anything less in an exercise in ritalin.
That being said, I am always wondering what to do with the strawberry tops. My cat seems to like them; she can lick the cut ends for hours. But other than that, they are kind of like the infamous (albeit inverted) muffin stumps from Seinfeld - nobody wants them. Until now.
I have discovered that they make a very nice tea. Next time you have a few strawberry tops, give the leaves a sniff; they are floral, fragrant, and sweet, all good characteristics for tea leaves. And it's a nice nod to thrift, as well as a tasty pick me up.
A couple of notes on this recipe:
- This is the strawberry season of all strawberry seasons. Here in NJ, they will be ready to pick in a few weeks. But the US crop is largely dominated by California and Florida growers; this year, weather conditions have forced the two states' growing seasons to overlap, resulting in supermarkets flooded with inexpensive, delicious fruit. A wonderful change after a winter of $8 for a pint of cardboard tasting third cousins removed.
- Mint can always be purchased, but really consider growing it. Like strawberries, it grows well anywhere whether a field or a container garden. Mint is incredibly hearty, requires little care or maintenance, and makes everything around it green and fragrant.
- You can sweeten this tea pretty much any way you please. Simple syrup works well, as it does in any beverage. Agave also works, but it needs to be diluted with hot water first, to thin it out. Personally, I have been experimenting with liquid stevia and really enjoying it. It's an herb (very common in Latin America, where they grow it like basil), has no calories, no glycemic impact, and the liquid cuts the bitterness found in the powder form.
This tea is best made with fresh ingredients, and is a nice portents of great things to come in the garden. Enjoy.
Strawberry Mint Iced Tea
Makes 4 cups of tea
10 fresh strawberries
5 fresh mint leaves, crushed
4 1/4 cups hot water
1/4 cup sugar or 10 drops of liquid stevia
- Remove leaves from strawberries. Common sense tip: Discard any leaves that seem molded or mildewed. Add with mint to a small infuser.
- Pour 4 cups of hot water over the infuser and let steep in a tea pot for 10 minutes.
- Fill a pitcher with ice cubes.
- Mix strawberries (without leaves) in a blender (you may need to add 1 tbsp water here, to get it to liquify properly). Strain and add to pitcher.
- Heat remaining 1/4 cup of water. Dissolve sugar in water and and add to pitcher. Alternatively, add the liquid stevia.
- Pour hot tea into the pitcher with ice cubes. Stir, and serve.
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Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net