A strange thing happens to many of us when we find ourselves face-to-face with a U-Pick field of June-ripened strawberries. Brought on, perhaps, by our intermittent modern-day exposure to nature and certain romanticized notions about the realities of farmwork and the size of our refrigerator's crisper drawer, we pick pounds and pounds of strawberries, filling our baskets until they overflow with the sweet, sun-warmed fruit.
Once we get home, reality sets in. We have three to four days to make the most of the endless pile of berries we've amassed before they start to go bad, thereby wasting an enormous amount of food and crushing any fantasies we may have harbored about our own old-fashioned resourcefulness. But here's the good news: strawberries cook down. A lot. So all we really need are a couple of hours in the kitchen and a few simple recipes, like the ones we've put together below, and our picking frenzy will be vindicated. Until blueberry season, that is.
Strawberry Shortcakes [JBF]
This dish is a classic for a reason: it has three basic components and they're all crazy delicious. James Peterson makes his with biscuits, as one should.
Strawberry-Lillet Crush [Saveur]
Muddled strawberries and mint mingle with gin and a splash of Lillet in this refreshing summer cocktail.
An easy alternative to ice cream, this berry-swirled semifreddo is made with both sweetened condensed milk and tangy Greek yogurt.
Strawberry–Mint Freezer Jam [Serious Eats]
No need to pull out your canning pot; this jam requires no cooking and can be kept in your freezer for months.
Anya Hoffman is a freelance writer and contributing editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter.