If there’s one thing I like doing in Baguio, it’s going to the market. There I can find the freshest fruits and vegetables, grown in the coolness of the mountains or in nearby La Trinidad valley.
On a recent visit, I was surprised to find strawberries that were so large that the vendors referred to them as jumbo. They were an evenly bright red with hardly any white on the bottom, which meant they were ripe and sweet. They really looked juicy and luscious.
My sister Cora and I couldn’t resist buying several kilos of the jumbo strawberries. At P300 per kilo, they were a steal (in Manila they’d cost P600- P700 per kilo). The really large ones cost P250, while the medium ones were about P200 a kilo.
Back in Manila, I separated the strawberries into three categories: the jumbo ones for eating, the large ones for strawberry sauce, and the medium ones for making strawberry jam or compote. I also reserved some for making into ice cream.
Strawberry sauce makes a scrumptious topping for cakes, waffles, ice cream and cheesecakes. The good thing about preparing your own strawberry sauce is that you can make it as sweet or as tart as you wish. You can also have whole berries in the sauce, which adds to its homemade appeal.
Here’s the recipe for strawberry sauce. Since strawberries and chocolates make a divine combination, pour some of the strawberry sauce into chocolate ice cream.
Homemade strawberry sauce
½ kg fresh Baguio strawberries½ c + 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cut off the stems from the strawberries and wash the strawberries well. Pat the strawberries dry with paper towels. Taste the strawberries. If they’re sour, use ½ cup plus 1-2 tbsp sugar. If they’re sweet, just use ½ cup sugar.
In a medium saucepan combine the strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer until the mixture begins to bubble and liquefy, stirring continuously to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When the strawberries begin to soften, use a slotted spoon to transfer half of the strawberries into a separate container to keep them whole.
With a wooden spoon, press the strawberries remaining in the mixture to soften them further and until they break slightly apart. Return the other (whole) strawberries to the mixture and bring back to a simmer. Let simmer for one to two minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat immediately. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Let cool.
Serve with pancakes, chiffon cake, cheesecake or as topping for ice cream. Makes about 1½ cups strawberry sauce.