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Feature Articles: Cooking and Produce

 

strawberriesStrawberries – tasty and nutritious

Susan Mills-Gray, Associate State Specialist, Nutrition and Health Education, University of Missouri Extension

 

As days grow longer and warmer, strawberries are first to show up in the market as they are in season from May to June. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of certain cancers and lower bad cholesterol levels. They are also rich in potassium and soluble fiber and they provide a modest amount of iron.

 

There’s no need to worry about limiting the serving size if you eat fresh, raw berries — 1 cup of strawberries is only around 45 calories. You need only beware of adding sugar or high-fat products that add extra fat and calories, such as pie crust and whipped topping.

 

Selection tips:
 

  • If you gather berries from a pick-your-own berry patch, go at the beginning of the season to get the best berries. As the season progresses, the berries are smaller and less fully developed, but still juicy. Late-season strawberries aren’t best for eating, but they are still great for jellies, jams and baking.
     
  • If you grow your own strawberries, allow them to fully ripen before picking. Strawberries do not ripen after being picked.
     
  • Most berries found in stores have been bred for hardiness, both in the field and in shipping, and are picked before they are fully ripe. This results in a firm-textured but less flavorful berry.
     
  • Large berries have the least flavor. Medium berries tend to be tastiest.
     
  • Choose firm, dry, bright red berries with fresh green caps.
     
  • Check berries to make sure they are mold-free. If one berry has mold, mold spores will have traveled to the other berries in the same container.
     
  • 1 pounds whole strawberries = 1 quart = about 4 cups sliced berries.

 

Storage tips:
 

  • Use strawberries as soon as possible after harvest or purchase. Refrigerator storage can dull the flavor of the berries.
     
  • Store loosely covered, unwashed berries in the coldest part of the refrigerator for two to three days at most. Do not wash berries until you are ready to use them. Leave the berry caps on until after berries are washed to prevent water from soaking into the berry. Removing the cap starts the destruction of vitamin C, so serve your clean berries with caps intact when possible.
     
  • To wash, place berries in a colander and rinse under gently flowing cold water. Berries that sit in water will lose their color and flavor.

 

Strawberry Sauce

Great for spooning over yogurt, ice cream, cakes, pancakes or waffles.

 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 pint strawberries (2 cups sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. While allowing syrup mixture to cool completely, blend the lemon juice and half of the strawberries in a blender. When syrup mixture is cool, add to the mixture in the blender and puree until smooth. If desired, press the puree through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Chop the remaining berries and add to puree. Serve or refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 4 days.

 

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This salad is loaded with vitamins A and C.

 

Yield: 8 servings
 

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large bag pre-washed spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic or cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

 

Mix berries and spinach in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well to make a dressing. Pour dressing over salad.
 

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

An elegant but simple treat!

 

Yield: 12 servings
 

  • 24 strawberries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons shortening

 

Rinse and dry strawberries, leaving stems intact. Place chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. One at a time, dip each berry halfway in the chocolate and place on a sheet pan. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

 


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Last update: Friday, June 03, 2016