The beautiful, plump, flavorful strawberry is the most beloved fruit of summer. The problem is, the strawberry has seeds and seeds are prohibited in the dysphagia kitchen. How can one puree it safely?
Good news. I have an answer. As I have discussed with the noted nutritionist, Dr. Dee, with the right tools, you can puree anything. Dr. Dee is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She is a chef as well as a nutritionist.
The equipment needed to render strawberries safe for puree is the nutrition extractor. The blades and the motor are so powerful that the machine breaks down the cell walls of the berry, liquefies it and renders the strawberry completely safe for the puree. Previous to the invention of the nutrition extractor, the strawberry was off limits to the patient with swallowing difficulties because of the seeds. The person with the swallowing disorder had to eat strawberries as a gelatin dessert, a JELL-O, or as a thinned-out, seedless, strawberry fruit preserve. To have fresh strawberries, you had to trim them of leaves and white spots, puree them, then run the fruit puree through a mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, using a silicone spatula, to remove the seeds. Don’t get me wrong. This is still a good method.
The nutrition extractor is fast. It has a small cup for small quantities. It liquefies seeds. If any seeds are present, one runs the extracted fruit through the mesh sieve with the cheesecloth lining and the silicone spatula. The nutrition extractor is superior to a juicer because you get the fiber and all of the phyto-chemicals present in berries. Once the fruit is liquefied and strained, use Instant Thickener in the amount required for your batch to thicken the strawberries to the pudding level. For one cup of puree, this will be a pump or a scoop of Instant Thickener. You now have a fresh strawberry sauce. Fresh fruit puree over thickened ice cream is a beautiful summer dessert. Store in closed glass containers in the fridge. Store in the freezer and note it on the white board. No dish could be simpler than this. Other berries, such as blackberries and blueberries, which formerly might have presented a problem for smooth puree, may be pureed and thickened in the same way. The bounty of summer is no longer off limits.
The nutrition extractor goes by several commercial names including the NutriBullet and the NutriNinja. The high-speed commercial blender, the Vitamix, will also do the job. See the reviews of kitchen appliances that simplify tasks in the dysphagia kitchen by going to the Essential Puree website. I like the new nutrient extractors, such as the new Nutri Ninja Auto iQ 1100W Personal Blender with Smooth Boost. At 1000 watts, the motor is powerful. The blades are engineered and sharp, and the strawberry seeds are reduced to liquid making them safe for the swallow. You will invest $110 for the machine, but you will save in the long run. You make your deserts at home. You know what’s in them. You can batch cook. You buy fruits seasonally, and prepare them from scratch. This also works with frozen fruits.
Prep time: 20 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 3
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, pureed and thickened
- 1 cup whipped topping, So CocoWhip, thickened with a half pump or a half scoop of Instant Thickener
- 1, one-inch slice store bought pound cake
For the Puree
Puree one cup of strawberries in a NutriBullet or a NutriNinja. Run the puree through a mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth using a silicone spatula. Use a half pump or a half scoop of Instant Thickener and combine thoroughly with 1 cup of whipped topping. In a glass serving dish, alternating layers of strawberry and whipped topping, make up the fool. Begin with strawberry, for half an inch. Then a quarter inch of whipped topping. Repeat.
For a variation, add a slice of pureed pound cake to the bottom of the serving bowl. I use pound cake because it is a better-baked product than the boxed shortcake cups available in most supermarket produce areas.
For the Puree of Pound Cake
Break up a piece of store bought pound cake into the bowl of a mini food processor.
Add a tablespoon of apple juice or pulp free orange juice to soften the cake. Add an extra tablespoon if needed to completely moisten.
Pulse a few times to break up cake. Puree until smooth consistency.
Add half a pump of instant xanthum gum thickener or half a scoop. Puree for ten seconds to combine.
Set in fridge for five minutes to reach full thickening power.
Place the pureed pound cake in the bottom of the glass storage dish. Then prepare as the Strawberry Fool with alternating layers of strawberry puree and whipped topping.
Summer in a spoon! As the food historian, Cynthia Bertelson says, “Southerners in the United States like to point to strawberry shortcake and claim it as their own. Ditto strawberry pie. But strawberries, All-American perhaps, still come with a long English history behind them.” For those interested in the story behind the recipe, here’s the link.