The strawberry beds were in need of refreshing this year. As I sorted and replanted the healthiest plants, I thought of Richard Dart’s memoirs of his youth in Green Lake, Wisconsin. His father brought Richard and his brothers to the area in 1840 when it was still home to many Winnebago people. Richard must have been a ‘glass half full’ sort of person. Even the grinding labor, plagues of horse flies and freezing winters spent without proper shelter did not keep him from appreciating the beauty of the wildflowers and the sweetness of wild strawberries.
Returning to their farm from the area which is now Ripon, the Darts discovered an eight acre patch of wild strawberries near the present day Scott Hill location. They picked what they were able to carry and returned the next day to pick bushels of strawberries. Lacking any means to preserve their treasures, they squeezed the berries though linen to make a delicious beverage.
Inspired by that long ago delightful vignette and beverage, I made a strawberry granita. It can be served either as a frozen dessert or in glass with bubbly wine or fruit juice for a refreshing summer beverage.
2 cups of water
1/3 cup Stevia (a natural no calorie sweetener)
Sprig of Lemon Balm, Lemon Mint or Lemon Thyme
3 cups hulled strawberries or equal amount of frozen strawberries
To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and add Stevia. Cool slightly and add herb sprig. Remove herb when the liquid has reached your desired intensity. Mash strawberries thoroughly or use a blender to liquefy. Add cooled simple syrup liquid. Freeze, stirring occasionally. You will need to let the granita sit out just a bit in order to spoon as it will be quite hard.