Strawberries are one of the most popular fruit around. And, no wonder, well-bred strawberries are mouth-wateringly aromatic, lusciously juicy to the bite, welcomingly bright in color and refreshingly sweet to the taste. When we’re not eating them fresh, we’re consuming the strawberry flavor in smoothies and milkshakes, jellies and jams, fruit juices and yoghurts, and in countless other products. Right now, strawberry season has arrived and it’s time to eat up or shut up!
According to historical sources, the first strawberries were cultivated in the early 17th century, commonly known as the woodland strawberry. The garden strawberry – the species of ones we eat today -- was first bred in Brittany, France in 1740 as a hybrid of a North American variety, noted for its flavor, and a South American one, noted for its size. Today, there are over 20 named species of strawberry plants.
Besides its succulent taste, the news about strawberries only gets better. One cup of strawberries (144 grams) contains only ~45 calories. Better yet, in that very cup, the nutritional benefits are bountiful, as seen below:
Protein 1 gram
Carbohydrates 11.65 grams
Dietary Fiber 3.81 grams
Calcium 23.24 mg
Iron 0.63 mg
Magnesium 16.60 mg
Phosphorus 31.54 mg
Potassium 44.82 mg
Selenium 1.16 mg
Vitamin C 94.12 mg
Folate 29.38 mcg
Vitamin A 44.82 IU
In fact strawberries are so nutritious, research is finding that they may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help memory.
When shopping for strawberries, always ask the grocer or vendor to taste one as a sample. Look for strawberries that are plump, bright red in color and have fresh green caps.
Once you get them home, store strawberries loosely covered and unwashed in the refrigerator to maintain their flavor. Just before eating, rinse them with cool water.
My favorite way to enjoy strawberries is fresh without a thing, or to indulge more, dipped in sugar or honey. For a special delight, you can also double-dip them into sour cream and brown sugar. However, I’ve found that they don’t last very long eaten those ways. To spread the joy a bit further, try one of these recipes with your friends and family. There are endless ways to enjoy strawberries. See how many new ways you can try this season!
Strawberry Smoothie (serves 2)
1¼ cup “Ocean Spray” Strawberry Juice Cocktail, chilled
¾ cup fresh strawberries, cleaned, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 cup vanilla yoghurt or vanilla ice cceam
Combine juice and berries in blender and blend until smooth. Add yoghurt and blend until thoroughly combined.
Salmon Tataki with Strawberry Miso
¼ cup shiro (white) miso
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp sake
2 Tbsp mirin
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp strawberry purée (from fresh strawberries)
2 Tbsp Japanese light soy sauce
2 tsp karashi (Japanese mustard)
¾ pound skinless, boneless wild salmon filet, cut into
Salt and white pepper
12 fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1. To make Strawberry Miso: In a heavy saucepan, whisk together miso, sugar, sake and mirin. Simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, about 15 minutes or until color begins to darken and mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; cool. Whisk in remaining ingredients.
2. To cook salmon: Season with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy sauté pan and add a small amount of grapeseed oil. Sear filets on all sides as quickly as possible and plunge into ice water immediately; salmon should be raw except for a very thin outer layer. Chill filets 1-2 minutes; remove and pat dry. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate.
3. To serve, slice salmon into ½” slices. Fan slices on 6 plates; drizzle each plate with 2 Tbsp Strawberry Miso. Garnish with fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Salad (serves 4)
1 pint strawberries, sliced lengthwise
2 small navel oranges, peeled, sliced crosswise and cut in half
1 quart small spinach leaves, stemmed and torn
1 quart garden lettuce, cut in narrow strips
3 Tbsp hazelnut oil
½ cup pine nuts
3-4 shallots, minced
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
Salt & pepper freshly ground
1. Combine the greens, pine nuts and shallots. Add oil and toss. Add vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Add fruit and gently toss again. Serve immediately.