Strawberries aren't fruit in the true botanical sense. They're members of the rose family and are unique because they have their seeds on the outside. On the average, there are 200 tiny seeds on every strawberry.
The appearance of plump strawberries at the farmer's market is a sure sign of warmer weather. Today strawberries have become increasingly available year-round, but they are at their sweetest from April - July.
Strawberries are loaded with nutrients including powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants - 8 medium sized strawberries have 93% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C. In addition, strawberries are good sources of folic acid, potassium and fiber. In fact strawberries are so nutritious, research is now finding that they may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help memory!
Always select berries with a firm texture, shiny skin, and deep color — this indicates that they are ripe and at their peak. If berries are picked just after a rainy spell or after several days of overcast weather, they will have "white shoulders"; don't expect them to ripen. The best approach is to cut the white tops off. The best way to keep strawberries is by separating unwashed berries in layers with paper towels, place them into a container in the refrigerator. When stored in this manner, free of excess water, strawberries can maintain their firm texture for up to 3 days. For the most flavor, allow berries to come to room temperature before serving.
Tasting a strawberry right from the plant is the ultimate! Pick your own Strawberries at a farm close to you: check out the Pick your Own website - Make a memory of a special day in the strawberry fields. If you have kids with you, they will learn about where their food comes from – an invaluable lesson.
Some quick & easy ideas for enjoying your strawberries:
- Toss ripe halved strawberries with a little balsamic vinegar and a little mint for a refreshing dessert. For a little added sweetness, add a splash of orange liqueur or dip in powdered sugar first - serve with assorted cookies.
- Serve whole berries with sour cream or a yogurt dip – or just whipped cream.
- Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a quick parfait dessert.
- Make a Strawberry Sauce, perfect to top a cake, pancakes or ice cream (or even cottage cheese). Wash and hull 2 cups of whole berries and cut into thick slices; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice & 11/2 tablespoons sugar; bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer about 3 to 4 minutes, or until syrupy. Remove from heat and add strawberries. Gently toss to combine. Use warm or cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
- An Italian grandpa’s favorite: Sliced and add to the red wine left in their glasses at the end of the meal makes a delicious dessert.
- Use frozen strawberries to make a thick fruit smoothie. Just blend the frozen berries with a small amount of orange juice or water, add yogurt or protein power – add a banana if you desire (or any other fruit). This makes a thick, creamy shake. You will need a spoon.
- Bake them with orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Sweeten them to taste after they're baked with honey. Serve them plain or with ice cream, cake.
- Strawberries liven up any mixed green salad, especially if you add a tangy cheese (crumbled blue cheese, goat cheese or feta).
- Chocolate dipped strawberries: Just follow this easy "how to" video from HowCast
A few fun recipes:
For strawberry salsa
1 fresh serrano or jalapeño chili
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar if desired
2 firm-ripe avocados
Wearing rubber gloves, remove stems, seeds, and ribs from chili and chop fine.
In a bowl stir together chili and remaining salsa ingredients. Salsa may be made several hours ahead and chilled, covered.
Halve avocados, removing pits, and peel. Slice each half lengthwise into 6 wedges and fan onto 4 salad plates.
Spoon about 1/3 cup strawberry salsa over each avocado fan and mound crispy tortilla chips alongside.
Fresh Strawberry Sorbet
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 pints fresh ripe strawberries Pureed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. vodka or other alcohol NOTE: The alcohol is the secret to a soft sorbet. Alcohol itself does not freeze and adding a little bit keeps the sorbet from doing the same. Vodka is excellent to use because it doesn't affect the taste.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand approximately 10 minutes.
Lightly rinse and dry the strawberries; hull and cut in halves. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup.
Add lemon juice, and pureed strawberries to the remaining sugar syrup; stir until thoroughly blended.
Ice Cream Maker - Transfer mixture to ice cream maker, process according to manufacturer's instructions.
Freezer Method - Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer. When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. When frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Cover and refreeze until serving time.
For many other recipes check out the Strawberry Councils recipe database