One of my favorite childhood memories is driving home from the beach – sandy, sunburned, probably dehydrated, and stopping to pick up a big flat of fresh picked strawberries from the roadside stand. There’s something about post-beach strawberries that just hits the spot. Biting into a plump, juicy strawberry quenches your thirst and gives you that extra bit of energy to stay awake until you get home and can conk out. Not to mention, that strawberries are much healthier and tastier than that last bit of soggy, sandy chips from the bottom of your beach bag.
I tend to associate strawberries with spring and summer, but in California strawberries are actually grown year-round due to the rich sandy soil and moderate climate. California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries, responsible for 88% of the total crop.
Aside from tasting great, strawberries are packed with nutrients. A one cup serving of strawberries (about 8) provides more vitamin C than an orange, is packed with potassium, and provides 3 grams of fiber to help promote good digestion. Additionally, one serving of strawberries has about half the sugar of an apple, and only a third of the calories of a banana. Strawberries make for the perfect, nutrient dense, low calorie snack choice!
Selection and Storage
Choose berries that have a bright red color, a natural shine and fresh looking green caps. If you live near a farm, a great weekend activity is to go harvest them yourself. You can get a lot of berries for a great price and you know they will be as fresh as possible. Be sure to store your berries in the refrigerator and dry them off well if you are pre-rinsing them. Wet strawberries will go moldy quicker. Also, if you see one moldy strawberry be sure to remove it, as mold can spread easily to the other berries. Strawberries have the best flavor when served at room temperature, so if you plan on finishing your berries in one day they can be left on the counter, otherwise to the crisper they go.
To freeze, wash strawberries and cut off the tops. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer. Once frozen you can put them in a freezer storage container or freezer bag to store. This method helps to keep the strawberries from sticking together in the container. To thaw place the frozen strawberries on a cookie rack with parchment paper below to catch the drippings or use frozen in smoothies.
Snacks and Recipes
Sliced strawberries make a great topping for nearly any type of grains or dairy. I always add strawberries to my cereal, oatmeal, yogurt and sometimes ice cream too 🙂 They are also a great addition to salads. Try making a spinach salad with candied walnuts and strawberries, it is the perfect flavor combo. Frozen or fresh strawberries also work well in smoothies for a quick, on-the-go breakfast. If you are getting tired of plain water, adding sliced strawberries with a bit of fresh mint is a great way to add some pizazz to your water. Try some of these great recipes with strawberries!
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.