A Sparkling Vintage Life

Retro Recipe Wednesday: Strawberry Tapioca

fruit market In our mountainside garden, I was thrilled yesterday to see the first strawberry blossom. Strawberries are not far behind! In fact, the markets are full of them, if I’m too impatient to wait for my own crop to grow.

Stepping back to 1917, here’s our gal Bettina’s favorite strawberry recipe, shared with her friend Charlotte in the enchanting book A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, illustrated by Ethelind Ridgway.


“I’ve been to the market, Bettina,” said Charlotte, “and I thought I’d stop here just a moment to rest.”

“Come in,” said Bettina, “and set that heavy basket down. Why didn’t you leave it for Frank to bring?”

“Because I needed the things for dinner.”

“What did you get?”

“Oh, the same old fresh vegetables,” said Charlotte wearily. “A month ago they seemed so wonderful–strawberries, asparagus, new potatoes and all–but there are no new ways to cook them! One day I cream the asparagus and the next day I serve it on toast.”

“Do you ever make asparagus salad?” asked Bettina. “We are very fond of it. Cold cooked asparagus is good with any kind of salad dressing, but we like best a very simple kind that I often make–oil and lemon juice and cheese.”

“Cheese?” echoed Charlotte in surprise.

“Yes, cottage cheese and Roquefort cheese are equally good. And, Charlotte, if you want some delicious strawberry desserts–”

“Oh, I do! We’re so tired of shortcake and plain strawberries!”

I know several good strawberry dishes. Come, let me show you one that I made today!”


3 Tbs granulated tapioca
4 TBS sugar
1-1/4 cup hot (boiling) water
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup sugar

Wash and hull the strawberries, and cut in halves with a spoon. Add the cup of sugar, mix well, and set in a cold place. Mix the tapioca, the 4 Tbs. sugar, and the salt. Add the boiling water slowly. Cook ten minutes in the upper part of a double boiler. Add the vanilla. When cold, add the strawberries. Serve very cold with plain or whipped cream.

Are you a strawberry fan? What’s your favorite way to serve strawberries? Please share it in a comment!

5 Responses to Retro Recipe Wednesday: Strawberry Tapioca

  • Avatar
    Kathy Lacina says:

    My mom’s birthday was in May and her mom would make Strawberry Shortcake for her birthday! I don’t have a recipe but the shortcake was basically regular flour and baking soda biscuits with sugar added to make them sweeter…and the cut-up strawberries and sugar that had set in the fridge overnight so they were nice a juicy…then whipped cream on top.

  • My grandmother was crazy about strawberries. She would talk about them, sometimes in the dead of a Canadian winter. She would tell us about different, favorite strawberry experiences, as well as ways to eat them. So instead of sharing a recipe, I will give my own, ultimate episode. We were driving in Ireland. My daughter, doing a summer internship there, traveled with us for a few days. She was asleep in the back seat of the car. I managed to make my husband actually stop, because I saw a handsome young man, standing by the side of the road with a hand made sign saying he had fresh strawberries for sale. To my delight, he happened to be French; he had been spending the summer on a farm in Donegal. He told me I would not believe these strawberries, and he meant it. He gave me one to try. I felt like Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It was the best piece of fruit I ever tasted in my life. I woke my daughter up just with my moans and growns back in the car. From the time she was a little girl, I used to believe she inherited my grandmother’s love of strawberries. I fed her the dear, little, wild berries and she just went bananas. These were hardy, sweet, small, and ripened to perfection. They were nothing like the monstrous, tasteless variety we are subjected to in the stores; they actually looked more like raspberries. They were delicious and we gorged on them, gobbling up the whole purchase stopping only to exclaim and exclaim again. It was an ultimate experience. Thank you for bringing it back to me. I’m going to go out now and look at my patch here in my new garden and see if they have flowers!

  • Avatar
    Marcia Whetsel says:

    Loved this recipe. I am going to try it right away. Just bought strawberries a couple of days ago. What fun. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Will let you know how it turns out.

  • Avatar
    Julieann Cowell says:

    My mom made tapioca all the time when I was growing up, I never hear of anyone making it anymore. Sweet story and recipe.

Here's a quick link to some of my books on Amazon:
Jennifer Lamont Leo