Market Fresh Finds: Strawberries the perfect pick

Sweet, fat-free berries versatile, packed with goodness

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EQUIVALENTS

1 pint, whole = 8 ounces

1 pint, sliced = 12 ounces

1 pound, whole = 2 2/3 cups

1 pound, sliced = 2 to 2 1/3 cups

1 pound, crushed = 1 2/3 cups

The first strawberries of the season have arrived, heralding the arrival of spring with their delicious, juicy sweetness. The strawberry season in the Pacific Northwest is traditionally June through July, depending upon the variety and area grown. Although classified as a berry, the strawberry is not actually a berry, it is a member of the rose family. It isn’t really a fruit, as the seeds are on the outside. Each strawberry has about 200 seeds.

Strawberries are native to many parts of the world and have been enjoyed since Roman times. The garden berries that we know today were created in Brittany, France, in the 1750s by crossing wild berries from North America and Chile to create a large, juicy sweet hybrid that was much larger than European native berries and quickly became the strawberry of choice. Today, there are virtually hundreds of varieties of strawberries throughout the world. The United States is the largest grower of strawberries.

Strawberries are packed full of antioxidants and are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber. One cup of sliced or eight large whole strawberries are only 46 calories and fat free!

Strawberries are at the peak of their flavor the day they’re picked. Do not wash them until you are ready to eat them; washing them too soon will make them spoil quickly. Instead refrigerate unwashed berries until you are ready to eat them. They will keep a few days in the refrigerator before losing their flavor and shriveling.

Always choose plump, firm berries with shiny red jewel-like colors that are unblemished, free of mold with bright, green caps still attached. Avoid purchasing berries that look soft or shriveled. Once picked, strawberries will not ripen further, so avoid choosing berries that have green or yellow patches.

Strawberries can be eaten fresh, used in baking, frozen, dehydrated or made into jams, jellies and more. Always wash your strawberries well before eating or processing. Strawberries are delicious added to leafy green or fruit salads, muffins, cookies or to top off waffles or oatmeal. Blend frozen strawberries, banana, milk and ice for smoothies. And don’t forget the classic strawberry shortcake, or strawberry lemonade.

To freeze strawberries, select firm, ripe red berries. Wash, drain, and remove hulls. Freeze whole berries on a cookie sheet and bag after frozen for smoothies. You can also slice or crush if desired, pack in syrup, sugar, or without sugar and freeze in freezer bags. When making jams, use an approved recipe and process in a water bath following directions for altitude and time. To dehydrate strawberries, wash, remove stem and cut strawberries in half. Dry skin-side down until pliable and leathery; follow directions for drying temps and storage.

For additional strawberry recipes and serving suggestions, check out Chef Scotty’s Market Fresh Recipes at http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/?p=8163.


Vicki Ivy is a Clark County WSU Extension Master Food Preserver. For additional recipes, food preservation and food safety information visit http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/?p=1134. Have questions? Call MFP Helpline: 360-397-6060 ext. 5366, or join Facebook Discussion Group “WSU Home Food Preservers – Clark County.”