A to Z Challenge (Letter S): Strawberry
My favorite food blogger, The Traveler’s Lunchbox, really knows how to pick good recipes. I’ve made a huge portion of the ones she’s posted, but she hasn’t posted anything new since 2012, and the link to the version she adapted no longer exists! I’m a little worried this recipe was going to float away.
Sometimes in the middle of a hot summer, the thought of kicking on the oven makes me queasy, so sometimes I’ll just make this pie’s filling. It is akin to making fresh strawberry jello, and just cramming a bowl with this lightly sweetened concoction, paired with a little whipped cream is just what the doctor (Dr. Thought on a Roll) ordered.
Fair warning. This pie takes about 4-6 hours to make, mostly due to it needing to be chilled. This is basically the only way I now prepare strawberries aside from gelato, so … it’s worth it.
Since today is also Earth Day, it’s a nice moment to consider the water footprint of the food we eat. I live in drought-riddled California, and strawberries take approximately 33 gallons (124 liters) to produce one pound (0.5kg) of this delicious fruit. California produces 88 percent of this crop for the rest of the United States (and likely some export) which amounts to 21 tons of strawberries, or 42,000 lbs and 1,386,000 gallons of water annually. Just from one state!
I still made this pie. A girl’s gotta eat.
My version has less sugar, mostly because I’m not a big fan of sweets and I prefer the sweetness from the strawberries. But, if you’re more of a sweets fan, I’ve included some notes on where to adjust your sugar-level.
Additional Fun Facts: A single cup of coffee equates to 33 gallons (124 liters) vs a cup of tea which is 7 gallons (27 liters). “Meatless Mondays” might slip onto the menu after learning how much water it takes to eat an animal…and I might start eating less chocolate (eggs and chicken take far less water)! Next grocery store visit, will I choose chicken over lamb curry to be more water-wise? Hmm, maybe I’ll take up tea again.
Adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox
Special Ingredients: unflavored gelatin (powder)
Special Tools: 9-inch pie pan, food processor, mesh strainer/sieve
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
In a food processor, add:
- 8 oz (225g) shortbread/butter cookies
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Start the food processor and when the cookies are basically powder, drop in
- 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
When the crust comes together press into a 9-inch pie pan. It’ll make a fairly thin crust.
Bake until golden brown (15-20 minutes…check at 15 mins). Turn off oven.
Special techniques: Ice Bath (Optional, but speeds up the prep time considerably)
In a mixing bowl, add:
- 2 lbs strawberries, stems removed and sliced
(or quartered, they stay together better quartered, but I like them sliced)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
Check your strawberry mixture… not sweet enough? Add up to an extra 1/4 cup of sugar. Very ripe strawberries might not need it, but out-of-seasons ones will.
Mix and let set for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Occasionally mix the berries.
Afterwards, drain out the strawberry juice to use with a fine mesh strainer (sieve) into a measuring cup or bowl.
You’ll get about 1 cup, but you need two cups, so add enough water to total 2 cups.
On low to medium heat, add to a saucepan:
- 2 cups of strawberry juice (noted above)
Sprinkle on top
- 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin (powdered)
Do NOT allow the mixture to reach boiling, but a low simmer is fine. Stir until gelatin is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes).
Place sauce pan in the ice bath stirring periodically until room temperature (about 5 minutes, or 30 minutes in the refrigerator).
Mix cooled gelatin mixture back in with the strawberry pieces, and return to the ice bath, mixing periodically until thickened (20-30 minutes, or 2 hours in the refrigerator).
Spoon into your crust, then allow to firm up in the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving. Best if eaten within a day after preparing.