Wild strawberries were once a luxury afforded only by wealthy Europeans. In the Americas, native people also enjoyed various types of strawberries. But it wasn’t until the railways system permitted easier transport of this perishable fruit did strawberries become a popular summer treat for everyone to enjoy. Most people prefer them for dessert or breakfast, but you can experiment with strawberries in a salad of heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese, mix them with chipotle seasoning for a ham glaze, or toss them with jicama and bell peppers for a crunchy slaw.
Add strawberries to your diet a few times a week for a boost of vitamin C and potassium, as well as an extra dose of folate. Strawberries are purported to also provide extra antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Strawberries are heart-shaped fruit ranging in size from ½” to 1″ long. Deep red in color with dots of tiny yellow seeds on the exterior, they’re the most commonly found fresh berry in the supermarket, usually packed whole or sliced in clear containers.
A ripe strawberry bursts with a fresh sweet-tart flavor unlike any other berry. Add a slight sprinkle of sugar to enhance the sweetness.
Fresh strawberries are readily available in major supermarkets throughout the year, and farmers’ markets during peak season. Frozen strawberries are also available throughout the year.
Strawberries are the first fruit of spring, so depending on where you are in the US, peak season could start as early as February and run through August. In Europe, prime season is March through July.
Look for plump strawberries that are firm with a shiny, deep red color and solid green caps. This fruit doesn’t ripen any further once picked, so color is important. A berry’s size isn’t always an indicator of sweetness.
Avoid fruit with moldy caps, yellow or green patches, or soft spots.
Some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen“, and the least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen“. Strawberries rank #4 on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list, which means pesticides have likely affected the fruit, so choose organic whenever possible.
However, the Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.
Keep unwashed and unhulled berries in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Even if you purchase strawberries outside from a farmers’ market or a pick-your-own farm, refrigerate them as soon as you get home.
Strawberries perish quickly, so don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. Rinse whole berries under cool running water and pat dry. Using a small paring knife, a strawberry huller, or the pointed end of a vegetable peeler, remove the green stems and white hull. Then, enjoy them whole, halved, or sliced.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk.
The majority of the manganese in the body is stored in the bones and organ tissue, mainly the liver and kidneys. Manganese is responsible for production and maintenance of sex hormones, blood-sugar regulation, brain and nerve function, calcium regulation and absorption, and carbohydrate metabolism.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.
A cup of sliced strawberries has as much vitamin C as one cup of orange juice. Some studies indicate that strawberries decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes, because the polyphenols in the fruit help to regulate blood sugar. Strawberries also have ample amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- The strawberry is a member of the rose family! Unlike other fruits, strawberries have seeds on the outside. One strawberry has approximately 200 seeds.
- Native Americans introduced strawberries to early colonists by crushing berries and mixing them with cornmeal to make bread. This sweetened bread eventually evolved into strawberry shortcake.
- Strawberries are always handpicked. The fruit is too delicate to be machine-harvested.