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Feature Article From Harvest to Health
How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce





Fresh strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup supplying more than the daily requirement. These delectable delights are also low in calories--one cup of fresh berries contains only about 45 calories. Sugar and syrup used for freezing, and cream poured on top add many extra calories.

Selecting Strawberries:

High quality strawberries are plump and well rounded with a natural shine and rich red color free from white, green, or hard tips. When purchasing strawberries, check to be sure unripe berries are not buried beneath a ripe layer on top because strawberries do not ripen after being picked. Their caps (hulls) should be bright green and fresh looking. Strawberries without caps should not be purchased as they may be overripe and not good quality. Avoid boxes of strawberries that are stained, leaking, or showing signs of mold.

Use strawberries as soon as possible after picking or purchasing to ensure the best flavor and appearance as well as the highest nutritional value.

Strawberries are luscious simply eaten raw or in shortcake or fruit salad. Freezing is the best method of preserving strawberries for meals throughout the year. Canning causes strawberries to fade, float, and become mushy. These berries can, however, be made into excellent sweet spreads. Strawberries dried in the form of fruit leather make an excellent, flavorful snack or lunch bag treat.

Using and Preserving Strawberries:

Fresh Facts:

  • Fresh strawberries are highly perishable and delicate. If not used immediately, remove berries from their containers right after picking or purchasing. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow container, loosely cover, and refrigerate.
  • Use fresh strawberries within one to two days for best quality.
  • Wash fresh strawberries just before you are ready to use. Washing strawberries removes their natural protective outer layer, and if done before refrigerating, quality will deteriorate rapidly.
  • Wash berries gently in cold water.
  • Leave caps on during washing to prevent water from soaking into the strawberry, diluting the flavor and changing the texture.
  • Let the sand and soil sink to the bottom, and then lift the strawberries out with your fingers. Several washes in clean water may be necessary.
  • Let the berries air dry, or gently pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Remove caps by giving them a gentle twist, or use the point of a sharp paring knife.

Freezer Facts:

  • Sugar and syrup packs produce a better quality product than unsweetened packs.
  • Strawberries can be frozen whole, sliced, or crushed, depending on their intended use in meals.
  • Strawberries can be stored in the freezer at 0F for 8 to 12 months.
  • Frozen strawberries can be substituted for fresh berries in recipes; however, the freezing process will make the texture much softer.
  • Strawberries are best served with a few ice crystals still remaining. If thawed completely they will become mushy.

Dried Facts:

  • Sweeter varieties with a full red color and firm texture dry best.
  • Slice strawberries for uniform drying. No pretreatment is necessary.
  • Dried strawberries can be powdered in a blender or food processor and used to flavor fruit beverages.
  • The best way to dry strawberries is to make into puree, put through a sieve to remove seeds, and use to make delicious fruit leathers.


Quick N' Fresh Ideas

  • Serve fresh strawberries with caps still attached for dipping into yogurt or powdered sugar.
  • Start the day off right with fresh whole or sliced strawberries atop cereal, pancakes, waffles, or french toast.
  • Float whole fresh or frozen strawberries in lemonade or other fruit drinks.
  • Slightly crush strawberries and alternate them with layers of vanilla ice cream in a parfait glass. Top with whipped cream and a big, perfect strawberry. Substitute vanilla pudding, yogurt, or stirred custard for the ice cream.
  • Make shortcut shortcake by topping angel food or pound cake with sliced strawberries and a cloud of whipped cream.

Strawberry Frozen Dessert
1 1/2 cups presweetened frozen strawberries
3 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups evaporated skim milk
1 egg white
1 9-inch meringue shell (optional)

Combine the strawberries with the lemonade concentrate. Pour the evaporated skim milk into a freezing tray and freeze until mushy around the edges. Put into a chilled bowl and beat to the consistency of whipped cream. Beat 1 egg white until frothy. Add the sugar slowly, beating well after each addition. Fold in the whipped milk and the strawberry mixture. Pour into 3 freezing trays and freeze partially. Place in a chilled bowl and beat again. Return to the freezer for 8 hours, or overnight. Beat again until the dessert is the consistency of ice cream. Freeze until set. Serve plain or in a meringue shell. Makes: 9 servings.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 9-inch double pastry crust

Combine sugar, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Add fruit. Toss to coat. Let stand 20 minutes. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Adjust top crust, flute edges, and pierce top crust to vent. Bake at 400F 40 to 45 minutes.

Strawberry Milk Shake
1 1/2 cups frozen presweetened strawberries or
1 pint cleaned fresh strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1/2 pint vanilla ice cream

Blend well.
Makes: 2 large glasses
Variations: Add 1/4 cup plain malted milk


Complete directions for freezing strawberries can be found in GH1502 Quality for Keeps: Freezing Fruits

Drying directions, including how to make fruit leathers, can be found in GH1563 Quality for Keeps: How to Dry Foods at Home


To order any of the "From Harvest to Health" publications or for more preservation information, please refer to the University of Missouri Extension, Human Environmental Sciences Publications - Food, Nutrition and Fitness section.



Last update: Thursday, June 18, 2009


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