Real Strawberries!

Fresh strawberries are one of the many ephemeral pleasures of June. I am not talking about the giant supermarket year-round strawberries that look and taste like plastic; get a couple of quarts of the little fresh June strawberries at your farmers market or farmstand and go wild thinking of all the things you can do with a quart of fresh strawberries (because you ate one quart just thinking about it!). 

Fresh strawberries at a stand in California

Strawberries (like all berries) are notoriously perishable. The strawberries we see in the supermarket are a marvel of modern technology. They are a variety specially bred for durability, size, and appearance. They can be and are picked unripe so they can be packed in boxes of uniform size and shipped thousands of miles to a broker on the east coast. Along the way they are gassed with ethylene, a synthetically-produced version of a natural plant hormone that promotes ripening. 

The broker sells the best of them to Whole Foods, Ring Bros., Lamberts, and other high-end greengrocers, who sell them at a premium. Those that are already verging on overripe, or that are refused by the premium greengrocers, go to the supermarkets. A sale on strawberries at the supermarket is a sure sign that the supermarket got them on a deal because a substantial number will go bad soon. Use the quickly!