I thought we left the 2013 strawberry season behind when we headed out from Florida to Reno, NV in early May. You can imagine my delight when I learned the first time I went to a local farmer’s market about a month later that the local strawberries were just starting to make an appearance.

South Lake TahoeSouth Lake TahoeSouth Lake TahoeLake Tahoe

New to Reno, Nevada, and the whole West Coast way of life, the news made me feel somewhat comfortable; and I thought I could pick up pretty much where I’d left off—at least where strawberries were concerned.

A forage of freshly picked strawberries

 To be honest, they have never been my favorite though I’ve got to admit that their versatility and affordability are hard to beat, not to mention the beauty that inspires and challenges many a food photographer. Throw in a picky 5-year-old who wouldn’t touch any berry other than strawberry, and you’ll see clearly my reasoning for frequenting that farmer’s market.

South Lake Tahoe

fresh strawberries

I personally prefer to eat my strawberries, and most other berries for that matter, raw, which is not always the case with my near and dear. I guess, their more sophisticated taste buds keep me busy folding the red beauties in all kinds of desserts. But a strong believer that it’s fresh fruits and veggies that pack the biggest nutritional punch, I make it my business to sneak a few into their fare as they come, i.e. raw. The best time to do it is in the car. On the way home. After a busy morning at the farmer’s market. Everybody’s hungry. Lunchtime is on the horizon. Munches settle in. Within minutes, half the berry forage is gone. Perfect!

The Tahoe Rim Trail

I eat a couple too. The strawberries are super sweet and juicy. It’s been a long time since I had a strawberry of such quality. You can’t beat the flavor of the soil-nurtured, sun-ripened berry that’s been picked at its peak of freshness . . . in the rich and fertile land of California.

Most of the produce that we buy at Reno’s farmer’s markets comes from there.

At the Beach . . .At the Beach . . .At the Beach . . .

The only problem with very ripe California-grown strawberries is that they don’t last very long. Strawberries in general stop ripening the minute they are picked; so if you don’t act fast and accordingly, they have nowhere to go from that point on but downhill.

So I decide to make ice cream from the leftovers as a way to preserve and enjoy their natural flavors a little longer. After all, ‘tis the season for ice cream.

I believe, June 21st was the official summer kick-off day this year.

At the Beach . . .

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream with Mixed Berry Sauce, Mint, and Pistachios

A scoop or two of fresh strawberry ice cream wrapped up in a blanket of soft-peak whipped cream and generously drizzled with mixed berry syrup, some salted roasted pistachios, and a sprig of mint made a splendid grand finale to our second trip to Lake Tahoe the next day.

At the Beach . . .

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream with Mixed Berry Sauce, Mint, and Pistachios

At the Beach . . .

Hot and tired after spending the greater part of the day out-of-doors, it was then that we crammed all of the ice cream. Light. Creamy. Fruity. Not too sweet. It didn’t last us as long as I’d hoped—despite my heartfelt effort to preserve those fragrant strawberries.

Lake Tahoe is breathtaking. Mountain-high cliffs . . . pine-studded shoreline of coarse-grained sand and pebble beaches . . . crystal clear waters reflecting the blue sky like a big, deep mirror . . . playful sun reflections on the surface sparkling up like jewels on the bottom . . . enormous boulders making excellent jumping pads in the summer . . . and abundant dirt trails and paved paths to explore it all . . .

At the Beach . . .

A Scoop of Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

At the Beach . . .

On the mountainous side of California 89  in South Lake Tahoe,  you’ll find hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Campsites everywhere.

On the lake side, people are sailing, boating, jet skiing, kayaking, to say the least. Little kids are combing the shallow waters by the boulders with their nets in hopes to catch some crayfish .

Either side, Lake Tahoe beams action.

I feel so fortunate to live in a rustic place like this where nature runs the show.

This is truly a mecca for outdoor lovers.

Recipe for Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, adapted from the recipe booklet for Cuisinart Automatic Ice Cream Maker ICE-21

Ingredients:

1. 1 ¾ cups fresh strawberries, washed, dried, and hulled

2. ¾ cup whole milk

3. 1 ½ cups heavy cream

4. ½ cup raw honey

5. 2 tablespoons natural cane sugar

6. 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

7. 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt or fine sea salt

Directions:

1. In a food processor, pulse the strawberries until roughly chopped. Reserve.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, honey, sugar, and salt. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.

3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Stir in the reserved strawberries with all the juices.

4. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 4 hours.

6. When you remove the ice cream from the freezer, let it sit for 10 minutes before you serve it.

Makes 1 ½ quarts.

Recipe for Mixed Berry Sauce:

Ingredients:

1. 1 16-ounce bag frozen mixed berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, thawed

2. 3 tablespoon organic agave nectar

3. 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt or fine sea salt

4. juice of ½ lemon

5. 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

1. Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about a minute.

2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the seeds.

akes about 1 ¾ cups.

Notes:

1. This ice cream is best made when strawberries are at the peak of their freshness.

2. The mixed berry sauce also works well with yogurt, biscuits, pancakes or crepes. Adjust the amount of sweetener to taste.