A few dozen reasons to love strawberries (according to Daniel Perry)

Fresh strawberries Fresh strawberries

It’s hard to choose the best thing about spring, but strawberries are certainly a strong contender. We asked Daniel Perry, the brains and hands behind Jam According to Daniel, to give us his two cents about this delectable fruit.

Daniel Perry. Photo: Amy Jackson

Are strawberries a relatively versatile fruit?

The great thing about strawberries is their juicy acidity. They’re just waiting to burst on the palate. Getting ripe strawberries to stand still as a tart topper, for any length of time, is a real challenge: As a pie filling they need a little help to thicken, but putting them over shortcake, pound cake, rice cakes or anything else dry and not over-sweet really lets strawberries shine.

I think strawberries are most versatile because their acidity tempers their sweetness, and keeps the flavor from becoming cloying and lingering on the palate.

What flavors pair best with strawberries?

Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and sugar (classic!), arugula, prosciutto, yogurt, pound cake. Try them with ricotta, arugula and prosciutto on toast.

What kinds of cheese pair well with strawberries?

I tend to prefer milder cheeses with my fruit. Try ricotta or a milder triple-crème Brie (like St. Andre); or a chèvre or a soft-ripened/blooming rind goat cheese (whatever Caromont is making, most recently the Chabi).

A bowl of Twenty Paces ricotta is my secret superfood. Top it with strawberries, olive oil, salt and pepper—you’ll want to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

What’s your personal favorite way to eat strawberries when they’re in season?

Out of hand, warmed by the sun, straight off the plant. The right berry will be a consistent dark red color from skin to core, not mushy but never crunchy. The incredible aroma gets lost in refrigeration, but they’ll go bad instantly without it, so once the strawberries get picked by someone else, the best part of them goes right out the window.

Strawberry all day

Here are a few ways Daniel Perry says you can utilize spring’s bounty.

Start with a bowl of sliced strawberries, then add a tablespoon each of sugar and lemon juice to make a juicy dessert/breakfast addition, or just a great snack. Substitute balsamic vinegar for the lemon juice, and toss it with a salad. Use lime juice instead of lemon, a dash of salt instead of the sugar, some jalapeño, cilantro and onion, for fruit salsa, or use it as the base for a fruity caponata with grapefruit, melon and black olives.