(June 17) If you lined up all the strawberries California alone produces in one year, the tasty string would wrap around the world 15 times.

That’s proof that there is enough of the natural sweetness to refresh menus throughout the year.

As summer approaches, look for ways to make a luscious presentation with the bursting berry flavors now in season.

BUILD YOUR BERRY RESERVES

Take a fresh look at new berry applications. They work well with meat and in sauces and drinks.

For a strawberry club sandwich, spread pound cake slices with a mixture of cream cheese, orange juice concentrate, honey and chopped, toasted walnuts. Layer fresh strawberry slices on top of each sandwich layer.

Find further instructions for this and other creative strawberry recipes on the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission’s Web site at www.calstrawberry.com.

For an Italian dish with a touch of tart, Ron Harton, clubhouse manager for Hole in the Wall Golf Club, Bonita Springs, Fla., created veal and pasta salad with raspberry pesto.

For the pesto, he combines fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese and raspberries in a food processor.

The salad is a combination of cooked macaroni, cooked veal julienne, lettuce leaves, black olives, raspberries and grated Parmesan cheese.

Raspberries also go well with chicken. Corey Hepburn, executive chef for the Holiday Inn in DuBois, Pa., created a “razz brie” stuffed chicken breast recipe with spicy berry sauce.

He stuffs chicken breasts with brie cheese and fresh raspberries and makes a fry batter out of coconut, breadcrumbs, salt and white pepper.

After frying and baking the stuffed, breaded chicken, he places the pieces on a dish in a pool of berry sauce made of pureed and strained raspberries, sugar and crushed red pepper.

Raspberries and blueberries work well in cooked recipes because they hold their color, says Marcel Langlais, a consultant for hospitality company Guest Services Inc., Washington, D.C. Berries go well with chicken, duck, goose and fish, but not with beef. Beef’s flavor overpowers berries.

He recommends serving duck with caramelized blueberry sauce. To make the sauce, caramelize blueberries or blueberry jam with sugar, flour and a little of the meat stock. Garnish the dish with fresh blueberries, he says.

Blackberries make a great punch, Langlais says. He processes blackberries, sugar and vanilla, and then strains the mixture for a tasty drink.

FOLLOW BERRY ADVANCES

Berries are easy to find right now. But if you do your homework, you can find domestically grown strawberries and raspberries year-round.

If you aim for year-round supplies, it might be easier to look for a single shipper with the same goal. For example, Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, Calif., recently extended its growing operation for year-round production, says sales manager Bob Schreiber. The company grows in five regions, including the Mexican state of Baja California.

Schreiber says not to worry about the safety of the berries it grows in Mexico. The operation comes under the same regulations as its California operations and is regularly inspected.

The company Web site – www.wellpict.com – discusses the company’s advanced pest management techniques, disease-resistant varieties and use of friendly predator insects to eliminate harmful pests.

Berry grower extraordinaire Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, also offers strawberries and raspberries year-round, which requires growing in such outside regions as central Mexico, Chile and British Columbia. The company adheres to strict safety standards and has a strong traceback program, says Driscoll consultant Susan Boyer, president of Food Marketing Resources, San Ramon, Calif.

If organic berries interest you, check with your suppliers. Consumer trends toward organics are leading some shippers, including Well-Pict and Driscoll, to develop organic options, including Well-Pict and Driscoll.

Driscoll has as extensive organic program and offers organic raspberries year-round, organic strawberries nearly year-round and organic blackberries three-quarters of the year, says sales representative Tim Youmans.

For those who order and move large quantities of strawberries through a warehouse or distribution center, Pacific AgPak, Watsonville, recently redesigned its 4-pound strawberry clamshell with an improved button lock and an improved tray base to cushion the pack, says Dave Baum, vice president of sales.

The company also developed a new family of clamshells that fit the common footprint 16- by 24-inch returnable plastic container or corrugated tray.

TAP IN TO TIE-INS

While the berry juices are flowing during peak season, plan ways to promote them — strawberries, in particular.

Perhaps you’d like to set out a tabletop card highlighting a delicious strawberry shortcake or smoothieavailable for a short time only. The California Strawberry Commission can help cover the costs for menu alterations or for the tabletop cards. “Contact us. We’ll put the wheels in motion,” says communications director Dominique Hansen.

Driscoll also is eager to work with foodservice operators on a berry promotion. “We are open to customize whatever works for each operator. For example, some restaurants might be open to table tents or posters. We have a budget to fund that,” Boyer says. The company also will provide generic buttons for the wait staff to wear or will help fund custom printing. “Or we could do an award for the wait staff server who sells the most Driscoll berry items in a certain time frame,” she says.