Local fresh strawberries are here! These delicious fruit annually welcome the arrival of summer with its grand entrance. Eating locally grown fruit in season provides the assurance that the berries are picked fully ripe and will get to the consumer within a day.
Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants and fiber. A cup of fresh strawberries contains only 50 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Strawberries contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Choose plump and firm strawberries with a bright red color and natural shine. The size of the berry is not important as the color of the berry. The fragrance is the best indicator of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid strawberries with a green or white color, wilted, bruised or soft berry. Strawberries do not ripen after picking. Store immediately in the refrigerator and pick as close to consumption time as possible.
When purchasing strawberries, check the carton for stains, which indicates over ripeness of the berries. Remove the strawberries from the original container and store in a shallow container on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not wash the strawberries or remove the caps until you’re ready to eat them or use them in a recipe. Handle the berries gently as they bruise easily. Immediately before serving, swish in a bowl of cold water. Do not soak.
Strawberries are a versatile fruit with many options to serve. Halve, quarter or slice fresh berries and let stand 5-10 minutes to allow juices to form and enjoy. Mix in a fruit cup, with other berries or add to a fresh garden salad.
Several of the local restaurants are serving delicious seasonal salads with fresh strawberries, roasted chicken, blueberries, and toasted pecans. Not only are these salads beautiful, they are healthy as well. For a nice summer dinner, prepare a salad with greens, grilled or roasted chicken, add vegetables of your choice including fresh strawberries and serve with a whole wheat crusty roll and dinner is ready.
Visit a local farm market or grower to pick your own or purchase fresh local grown strawberries this weekend and enjoy!
Strawberry Spinach Salad
4 cups spinach or other mixed greens
1 cup fresh strawberries or combination of peaches, blueberries, and kiwi fruit (sliced)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
½ cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces, blanched and chilled
½ cup toasted almonds or walnuts
2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds, toasted
½ cup cheese, goat or blue, crumbled
1 cup cooked turkey, chopped
Combine with selected toppings. Top with your favorite salad dressing.
Source: Edible, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Author: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension