It's Strawberry Time in the Lowcountry

Remember the strawberries of your childhood, fresh-picked in the early morning and served with whipped cream and shortcake in the evening?

Take a trip out to St. Helena Island where you’ll find them just ripe for picking at Dempsey Farms. Also, our local farmer’s markets will be sure to have plenty on hand, fresh picked from nearby farms.

Oatmeal-Yogurt Pancakes with Strawberry Crush

Strawberry Crush:
2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the pancakes:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old- fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup Greek yogurt, plus a big dollop for garnish
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs

Whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, melted butter and eggs.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and whisk in the wet ingredients Strawberries are ripe for the pickin' at Dempsey Farms on St. Helena Islanduntil well incorporated.  The batter should be thick, with little bubbles on the surface.

Use a heavy duty skillet over medium heat.  Melt a small amount of butter and brush on to cover the surface. Drop about 1/3 cup of batter per pancake onto the hot griddle, leaving enough room in between pancakes so they do not run together.  Once bubbles form around the edges of the batter, flip the pancakes over with a spatula.  Cook on the other side until the pancakes are golden brown around the edges.  Repeat, adding more butter to the pan as needed until all the pancakes are cooked.  To serve, stack the pancakes as high as you dare and garnish with butter and a dollop of Greek yogurt and a generous amount of strawberry crush.  Serve hot.

For the strawberry crush, combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Strain the juice into a pot and reserve the berries.  Heat the juice over medium heat and simmer until the syrup is thick and coats the back of the spoon.  Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.  Allow to cool and pour over the berries.  Adjust the sweetness with more maple syrup if needed.  Serves 4.


Simple Strawberry Jam

Seal the flavors of springtime in jars of jam, easy to make and especially delicious in winter when springtime pleasures are just a memory. Pectin is what makes jams gel and for this recipe, I use a few slices of a Granny Smith apple because they are full of natural pectin.

3 pints fresh strawberries
3 cups superfine sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and small-diced

Just before using, place the berries in a colander and rinse them under cold running water.  Drain and hull the strawberries.  Cut the larger berries in ahlf or quarters.  Place them in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and toss them with the sugar and Grand Marnier. Bring the berry mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Add the apple and blueberries and continue to keep the mixture at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  This may take up to 35 minutes.

Foam will rise to the top and should be skimmed off.  All the jam to cool to room temperature,  then store covered in the refrigerator.  It will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  To keep it longer, pack and seal in canning jars according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spinach and Strawberry SaladIt's Strawberry Time in the Lowcountry

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite size pieces
4 cups strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.  Use a medium bowl and whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds and poppy seeds.  Pour over the spinachand strawberries and toss.  Yields 8 servings.

Strawberry Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 well beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 pints fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350*  Cooking time 60 minutes

Combine dry ingredients, making a well in the center of the mixing bowl.  Beat eggs and oil together and add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until moistened.  Stir in strawberries and pecans.  Spoon batter into 2 greased 8 inch loaf pans.  Bake until bread tests done.  Leave in pan about 20 minutes.  Wrap in foil or saran and let stand overnight before slicing.  Yields: 2 loaves



Pat Branning's Shrimp, Collards & Grits





Feature by Pat Branning. Mrs. Branning is the local author of the best selling book, “Shrimp, Collards and Grits,” recipes, stories, art and history from the creeks and gardens of the Lowcountry.  For more information, or to purchase her book, visit