Wild, Wild Strawberries
The strawberries are just starting to ripen and will hopefully come on in full force once these lingering gray rainy days in Corvallis stop. Though now that I’m writing this from swampy, 90 degree North Carolina this weekend, I appreciate the crisp and refreshingly cool Northwest.
Many are the strawberry recipes I plan to plow into when I return. I especially anticipate roasting over-ripe berries (I remember Ivy Manning some oven-roasted strawberry preserves recipe). Then this strawberry tiramisu tickled my fancy. And then there’s my favorite: good old fashioned strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Unfortunately, most of the berries I planted won’t yield much this year. I’ve only managed to sneak a ripe one or two. Most of the blossoms are supposed to be plucked off the first year, to improve future harvests. Most berries plants and fruit trees force delayed gratification on you.
So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a meadow just studded with these fragrant ruby orbs at Lumos Winery near Philomath on Memorial Day. While wine-tasting, I plodded out there in search of the nearly extinct Fender’s Blue Butterfly that lives among the Kincaid Lupine in a rare open stretch. But I’m ashamed to say that from a distance, the precious butterfly looked more plain and moth-like. But the berries underfoot soon captivated me. It’s hard not to smoosh them as you walk since the wild berries grow so close to the ground. The tiny berries are tart yet sweet, with more concentrated flavor and perfume (even when not fully ripe) than our conventional varieties. You’d have to pick a ton of them, though, to have enough for a recipe. Maybe I could gather enough to make that Italian wild strawberry liqueur.
I planted some wild ones earlier this year, but now I want more. Why don’t we rip up the grass and cover the lawn with wild strawberries? It would be the perfect union of horticulture and wild-crafting. A fusion of gardening and foraging is my ideal. There’s nothing like stumbling upon something valuable growing freely in the wild.