Homegrown strawberries are as bright and intensely sweet as summer itself. Don’t wait. Enjoy them as soon as they appear because — like these long, sunny days — they don’t last. These berries are far too delicate for buttery cobblers, pies and crisps, all more suited to sturdier fruit. Homegrown berries are best enjoyed sun-warmed right in the garden.

Once they’re picked, store them in the refrigerator, but allow them to come to room temperature before serving; the chill dulls their flavors. Do not wash strawberries until right before serving (and if they’ve been grown in a terra-cotta pot on the patio, you may not need to wash them at all).

Simple is best with garden strawberries. A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, or a squirt of lemon or lime may be all you need.

My grandmother made a strawberry fool by fork-crushing the berries and folding them into cold lightly whipped cream to serve in parfait glasses. She would say, “To do any more to these strawberries, I’d be the fool.”

Beth Dooley is a Minneapolis writer and cooking instructor.