5 ways to make the most out of Louisiana’s strawberry season

While there’s no fixed date, farm lore puts the decline of Louisiana’s annual strawberry season around Mother’s Day, which means it’s time to get busy enjoying the last of this year’s harvest.

It’s been a good year for strawberries, thanks to a plentiful first crop that flourished over the course of our mild winter. The second round, which runs from mid-March to mid-May, has also been strong. You can still find red, ripe local berries at independent grocery stores, local farm stands and farmers markets.

The best way to enjoy local produce is washed and straight out of the basket, but a generous bounty also beckons creativity. Strawberries are delicious in smoothies, on salads or tucked on a charcuterie board. They’re great in homemade cereal bars and in frozen margaritas or daiquiris. They don’t mind going in a savory direction with barbecue sauce or salsa. And, of course, they’re next-level yummy macerated and served on shortcakes with fresh whipped cream.

5 ways to enjoy the last of the strawberry season

Strawberry salsa is healthy and tasty.

Strawberry salsa

In this crazy easy recipe from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, blend fresh cut strawberries with chopped red onion, fresh chopped cilantro and lime juice for a different take on salsa. Add jalapeño or avocado if you like, and serve with chips or on spicy chicken tacos.

Strawberry sorbet is easier than you think.

Strawberry sorbet

Combining simple syrup and pureed strawberries is about all there is to making homemade strawberry sorbet. Freeze for about 4-5 hours, puree in a blender then refreeze until firm or overnight. Let the sorbet rest for 20 minutes before scooping.

Pour homemade strawberry syrup on pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

Strawberry syrup

All you’re doing here is preparing a simple syrup (one-to-one sugar and water brought to a boil), and adding cut strawberries to the saucepan. Let the mixture gently boil until the berries soften and infuse the syrup. Remove with a mesh strainer, then press the juice back into the pan. Allow the mixture to continue reducing for a few minutes. Then cool to room temperature and serve on pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

Freeze washed and dried cut fruit in food storage bags, and use it throughout the year in strawberry smoothies.

Strawberry smoothie

A great way to preserve berries its to wash, core and dry them, then pop them into freezer bags. Throughout the year, combine the frozen fruit with Greek yogurt and almond milk for a three-ingredient breakfast smoothie that will remind you of springtime.

Strawberry bars

Making your own cereal bars is satisfying and fun. Prepare an oatmeal-flour crust and press it into a pan. Then pour in a pureed strawberry filling and top with the remaining crust mixture. Bake, let rest and serve. Don’t forget to top with almonds.