By Suzanne Boothby
Why We Love Strawberries
Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that help provide protection to our cells against cancer and other disease-causing damage. Packed with vitamin C, they also help boost your immune system. Vitamin C and antioxidants are also great for your skin in helping to prevent damage from your environment, and of course, aging. If strawberries aren’t high in something, that’s definitely sugar and calories. Strawberries are naturally lower in sugar compared to many other fruits which helps to prevent blood sugar spikes. And you can eat a big handful without eating more than 50 calories!
How to Shop for Strawberries
To enjoy strawberries with the fullest flavor and lowest costs, buy them in season. Most commercial strawberries in the U.S. are grown in California or Florida, where the strawberry growing season runs from January through November but peak season is April through June. Look for organic strawberries as strawberries are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of the most pesticide residue laden produce.
When you’re at the farmers’ market or grocery store look for strawberries that are bright red, firm to touch, and free of any mold or bruises. If you see a carton full of green ones, avoid it. They contain little, if any flavor, because they were likely picked way before they were ready. The strawberries you want should have a bright shine, which indicates that they are fresh. The stems should also be bright and fully attached to the strawberries. As with most produce, ones with a pleasant yet strong scent will have the most flavor.
TIP: Not too small, but not too large. Medium-sized strawberries typically possess more flavor while large berries can be hollow inside and filled with water. Really small ones may have a hard bottom with lots of seeds.
How to Store Strawberries
Fresh strawberries are best if eaten within a few days after purchase – two days or less is best for the maximum nutritional value. To make your strawberries last, don’t wash them until you are ready to enjoy them. When they get wet, they will soak up the water and can quickly turn bad.
When storing your strawberries, place them in between paper towels or a kitchen towel in your fridge’s storage bins or a glass, sealed container to create a dry environment. If you don’t plan on eating them right away, it’s best to place them in the freezer to lock in their nutritional value. There are plenty of smoothie recipes just waiting for you to make them with your frozen strawberries!
How to Prepare Strawberries
Strawberries can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways – juiced, blended, raw in salads, as a snack, or cooked in a Summer Fruit Bake.
Juice: Wash strawberries well then add through juicer chute at a low speed. It’s best to use fresh, not frozen when juicing berries to get the most juice. Don’t worry about removing the green parts, they won’t affect the taste, and the more green in your juice, the better.
Blend: Fresh and frozen strawberries are an excellent addition to a smoothie to add sweetness, phytonutrients, and color. Frozen fruit seems to do better in a blender, but experiment and see which way you prefer them.
Raw: Fresh, raw strawberries are one of the best snacks of spring and summer. Just pack them in a glass container, and when you get hungry at work, give them a rinse and indulge. One strawberry only has 4 calories.
Cooked: Try adding them to one of our Fruit Bake recipes for a warm treat.
Cooked, Raw, or Frozen? How to Get the Most out of Strawberries
Strawberries maintain their most nutrients when kept raw. This is good news because that is the most common way to enjoy them, like when you eat them as a snack or cut them up and place them on a salad. Frozen berries have nearly the same level of nutrients. If you typically like to cut your strawberries when you place them in the freezer, next time leave them whole. They will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content.