Growing up, we raised and picked our own berries. It’s one of the things I miss most about the farm, especially when strawberry season rolls around.
This past week I decided to find a local U-Pick farm where we could re-live a bit of childhood. Fortunately, we found a great farm, but unfortunately we picked like we’d never seen strawberries before. I’m not the only one though — Erin from ErinCooks.com also had a berry picking adventure. Her berries look beautiful!
The trip turned out to be Joe’s first time picking berries of any type. He reminded me that we once had a small pot on our patio in which we had a sad little plant that yielded two strawberries. However, I don’t really think this counts as a true berry picking experience.
Joe took to the berry picking much better than I anticipated, although I later discovered a few pink berries in the basket. Next time, I will be on quality control. We worked our way through the field, finding a good section far from the other berry pickers. Time passed quickly and before we knew it, our basket had filled with some 14 pounds of berries. Eeek!
Once we got home, I immediately went to work on the berries. Over the weekend I made freezer jam, an amazing cobbler (coming soon), froze a few pounds, and gave a bowl full to the in-laws. Still, I have several pounds left. Since I’m participating in the Eating Down the Fridge challenge at A Mighty Appetite, I wondered how I might use up a few pantry ingredients while also using my excess berries.
In the back of my pantry, there is a big bag of cornmeal. On occasion, I break it out and make sweet cornbread, a thick polenta or even cake. I decided to combine my cornmeal and a bit of slowly souring milk with the juicy red strawberries for a breakfast muffin.
The result? Glorious muffins. Seriously. I love them more than I can describe.
Strawberry Cornmeal Muffins
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped strawberries, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add beaten egg, oil and milk, stirring until just combined. Fold in 1 cup chopped strawberries. I used smaller berries and simply cut them in half. I suggest chopping the berries no larger than 1/2″.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, then garnish with a few chopped berries. Bake at 400F (200C) for 20-25 minutes or until testing done.
Allow the muffins to cool before removing from the muffin tin. I ran a sharp knife around the edge of each muffin, then popped them out of the tin.
The muffins are light and sweet, the juicy berries like little strawberry explosions in your mouth. The cornmeal adds a bit of texture and light corn taste, but overall the muffins tasted like strawberry shortcake to me. Add a dollop of butter and you’re all set for breakfast (or dessert).
As an added bonus, the muffins are striking. The yellow muffin contrasted by the vibrant red strawberries is captivating.
Granted, their beauty wasn’t so grand that I couldn’t resist eating them. I had hoped to have them for breakfast for the next few days … but it looks like that won’t be the case. I think there is 1 left.
Update: I forgot to mention that my mother called last night with a strawberry update. She started picking berries 6 days ago on the farm and has already picked 15 quarts. Her patch is producing nicely and needs to be picked every other day. Mom also emailed me a photo from her first picking: