Susan Vaughan here, not dying yet. Maybe I wouldn’t literally die for strawberry pie, but eating the delicious fruit whether au naturel or in a pie is “to die for.” I wrote this post in 2013, but even the weather information applies now. The Maine strawberry season was a little later than usual due to a wet and cool June. The up side of that is the berries had longer to ripen so were larger and sweeter, according to my local produce farmer. And now in August, the ever-bearing berries are ripening.
Whenever I eat a berry like strawberries or blueberries, I often wonder about the reaction of the first humans to taste them. Ancient peoples must have sampled all kinds of wild plants that either tasted horrible or made them sick. Imagine the euphoria of biting into a juicy berry like the strawberry. Did they wait awhile to see if it made them sick?
A little research, and I found that strawberries are the only berry with seeds on the outside. They grew wild in Italy as far back as 234 B.C. The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Roman goddess of love, because of its heart shape and red color. In Othello, Shakespeare decorated Desdemona’s handkerchief with symbolic strawberries. About the strawberry, William Butler (ca 1600) said, “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”
And early European settlers in Massachusetts ate strawberries cultivated by local Native Americans, who’d cultivated the berry as early as 1643. Crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. Colonists then developed their own version and created strawberry shortcake!
In honor of the strawberry, I’m sharing my strawberry pie recipe. It’s easy and foolproof. Oh, and to die for. Enjoy.
Ingredients: 1 quart strawberries, washed, drained, and hulled, a pre-baked and cooled pie shell, 1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp cornstarch, pinch salt, water
Cover cooked pie shell with the choicest berries. Mash 1/2 to 1 cup of remaining berries. Add enough water to make 1 1/2 cups. Mix sugar, salt and cornstarch together. In saucepan, bring juice mixture to boiling. Gradually stir in sugar mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until boiling. Add drop of red food coloring if desired. Boil one minute. Cool. Pour over berries in the pie shell. Chill about two hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. You can use peaches or other berries or a mix of berries.
If anyone has interesting facts or lore about strawberries, please share!
*** All three books of my Devlin Security Force series are available online, for digital readers and in print. Locally in Maine, the print books will soon be available at the Sherman’s Books & Stationery Stores.