Welcome June, hello strawberries! While I’m in a tough competition with the local chipmunk community for the strawberries in my garden (last year they won, hands/paws down), I got to spend the morning at a professional strawberry operation for what felt like a proper kick-off to strawberry season. The Charlotte Berry Farm held a Crop Squad this morning to rid the strawberry fields of prickly lettuce. They asked, we came, we weeded and we feasted. Look at these gorgeous berries:
Full of nutrition, these beauties are also full of exceptional flavor. The one thing they lack, is a long harvesting season. These ephemeral gems come and go so quickly, you have to thoroughly enjoy them while they’re here. Because, if you’re like me, once you’ve had fresh, local strawberries, it’s not much fun eating those tasteless 3,000-mile ones from the supermarket anymore.
Strawberries contain impressive amounts of fiber, folate, manganese, iodine and potassium and sky-high levels of vitamin C. In order to collect on all the nutrition strawberries have to offer, it is recommended that you enjoy them fresh (they begin to lose some of their vitamin C and antioxidants when stored for more than two days), raw (as is true with most fruits and vegetables, the heat from cooking destroys many important enzymes and nutrients) and organic (conventionally-grown, they rank #3 on the “dirty dozen” list). Researchers have also credited strawberries with supporting a healthy blood glucose response, boosting cardiovascular health and fighting inflammation. To gain the medicinal value from strawberries, it is important to eat them regularly: at least a cup 3-4 times a week. That means stocking up now while they’re fresh and plentiful.
Eating Strawberries Fresh: For opening night, we had some just as they are:
in strawberry ricotta cones (for the recipe, click here):
as strawberry creamsicles:
on toast and in a strawberry salad:
Preserving Strawberries. I like freezing them, because they maintain most of their nutrients, do not need to be cooked, do not require adding sugar, and it’s very easy. Start with firm and fully ripe berries, remove the stems, gently wash, let dry, then freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet for about twenty-four hours.
Once completely frozen, move them to sturdy plastic bags or containers and keep them in the freezer ready to use anytime between now and next year’s strawberry season. Lastly, compost the sink full of stems.