Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Strawberries from
the Barren County Farmers' Market




Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Strawberries are herbaceous perennials that are rhizome runners. These low growing plants have long runners that produce the berries. Easily grown in the ground or in pots, they are also attractive as foliage. Depending on the plant, runners bear fruit in either June or year round.

Strawberry history goes back over 2200 years. It is thought that the name "strawberry" came from the practice of growers spreading a layer of straw around the plants when the berries begin to form. There are 600 strawberry varieties found today which come from only five or six original wild species, and are a member of the rose family.

The American Indians were already eating strawberries when the Colonists arrived. The crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, Colonists developed their own version of the recipe and Strawberry Shortcake was created.

California produces 83% of the nation's strawberry crop. The coastal regions there provide the ideal conditions for growing strawberries. Florida is America's second-largest producing state. Their growing season is from November through May. Most of the imported strawberries to the United States come from Mexico, with smaller amounts coming in from New Zealand, Canada, Colombia, and Guatemala.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Some strawberry facts and lore:

Strawberries are very unique, because they are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.

In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and abundance of milk in return.

Americans eat 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries each year plus another 1.8 pounds frozen per capita.

Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other.

On average, there are 200 seeds in a strawberry.

The ancient Romans believed that the berries alleviated symptoms of melancholy, fainting, all inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, attacks of gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.

Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck, which some claimed proved she was a witch.

Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.

Selecting a quality product

When you buy berries in a store, look for ripe, colorful, yet firm berries, with no sign of mold or mushy spots.

Picking your own berries is a good option. The quality is much better than any store, when you choose the fruit yourself and get it fresh from the plant. It looks and tastes better. It's is healthier, too, because it is fresher.

The costs are usually substantially less because the farmer doesn't need to pay farm hands to pick, and he usually has no packaging or shipping costs. And if you plan to can or preserve any jam, fruit or vegetables, this is the best way to buy. Some people take their whole families and make a day of it.

If you do go pick your own, here are some tips on picking:

  • Grasp the stem just above the berry between the forefinger and the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion.

  • With the stem broken about one-half inch from the berry, allow it to roll into the palm of your hand.

  • Repeat this using both hands until each holds 3 or 4 berries.

  • Carefully place - don't throw - the fruit into your containers. Repeat the picking process with both hands.

  • Don't overfill your containers or try to pack the berries down.

  • Be careful that your feet and knees do not damage plants or fruit in or along the edge of the row. At a Pick-Your-Own farm, it is important that you pick only on the row assigned to you.

  • Most growers furnish picking containers designed for strawberries. If you use your own container, remember that heaping strawberries more than 5 inches deep will bruise the lower berries.

  • Pick only the berries that are fully red. Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries ready for harvest.

  • Pick the row clean. Remove from the plants berries showing rot, sunburn, insect injury or other defects and place them between the rows behind you. This is a great courtesy to the farmer who will certainly appreciate it but if the berries are yours, it is good plant management.

  • Berries to be used immediately may be picked any time, but if you plan to hold the fruit for a few days, try to pick in the early morning or on cool, cloudy days. Berries picked during the heat of the day become soft, are easily bruised and will not keep well.

  • Avoid placing the picked berries in the sun any longer than necessary. It is better to put them in the shade of a tree or shed than in the car trunk or on the car seat. Cool them as soon as possible after picking. Strawberries may be kept fresh in the refrigerator for three or more days, depending upon the initial quality of the berry. After a few days in storage, however, the fruit loses its bright color and fresh flavor and tends to shrivel.

Tips on Storage

Berries don't store very well so prepare to use them soon after purchasing. Never wash them before putting them in the refrigerator. It will only serve to hasten spoilage or molding. And strawberries are like tiny sponges and will soak up water, which dilutes the flavor and makes them nearly useless and certainly tasteless.

Tips on Preparation

Gently wash the berries before you serve them. Berries can also be found in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Once they thaw, they will not be as firm as freshly picked berries, but they will still contain all the nutritional benefits of fresh berries.

Most berries freeze nicely, and will keep up to ten months in the freezer. To freeze berries, rinse them gently and dry in a colander or on paper towels, and put them on a sheet pan or tray in the freezer. When frozen, put the berries in a bag. This way they won't stick to each other and you can measure out as many as you want at a time.




Recipes

Strawberry Mallow Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 pkg. frozen strawberries
1 cup whipped cream (or Cool Whip)
1 tbsp lemon juice
16 large marshmallows, cut in half

Thaw berries. Drain juice and save, add water to make 1/2 c. liquid. Place in double boiler. Add marshmallows and heat until melted. Remove pan from heat, add lemon juice and cool. As this begins to set, fold in berries and cream. Spoon into crust and refrigerate until serving time.




Strawberry Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup yogurt, plain or vanilla
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strawberries, finely chopped
Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe follows)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt cake pan. Beat all ingredients except strawberries and Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze in a large bowl on low speed for 45 seconds, scraping bowl, constantly. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping occasionally.

Fold in strawberries, pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack and glaze.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze

1/4 cup cream cheese
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup mashed strawberries
1 tablespoon water if needed
Beat sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in strawberries and add water if necessary until it is spreading consistency.




Strawberry Chicken Salad

Serves 4

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chutney
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon peels
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1/4 cup red onions, chopped
1 1/2 pints strawberries, stemmed
4 lettuce leaves
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

In large bowl mix together mayonnaise, chutney, lemon juice and peel, salt, and curry powder. Add chicken, celery and onion; toss, cover and chill. Just before serving, slice 1 pint of the strawberries; gently toss with chicken mixture. Line platter or individual serving plates with lettuce. Mound chicken mixture on lettuce. Garnish with whole strawberries and mint.




Grilled Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

Makes 6 servings

Salsa:

(Prepare at least one hour ahead.)
1 English or seedless cucumber, finely chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro or flat leaf parsley, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced small

Sauce:

1 stick butter
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

6 salmon fillets (or fish of your choice), skinless

Salsa:

Mix cucumbers, green onion, cilantro/parsley, yellow pepper and vinegar. Cover and chill at least one hour. Just before serving, add strawberries.

Sauce:

In a small saucepan, melt butter with garlic over low heat. Stir in honey, soy sauce and lemon juice and cook 2 minutes, set aside.

Prepare a charcoal grill, when ready, brush sauce on salmon pieces and place on a well-oiled fish grilling rack. Place rack over coals about 4 inches from fire and grill approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Brush with the sauce again after turning, and again when done. Transfer to warm platter and top with salsa.




Strawberry and Gingercream Shortcake

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Gingercream (recipe follows)
2 pints strawberries, stemmed and halved

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour round 8-inch layer cake pan.

In large mixer bowl cream butter. Slowly add sugar, mixing until well blended. Add ginger and eggs, beat well. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with water.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in center of oven 45 minutes or until pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes.

Turn out onto rack to cool completely. Slice cake horizontally into two layers. Place one layer on serving plate. Spread with one-half of the gingercream; top with 1/4 of the strawberries. Top with second layer. Spoon remaining cream over top; garnish with strawberries. Dust with additional powdered ginger. Cut into wedges. Pass remaining strawberries separately.

To Make Gingercream:

Beat 1-cup whipping cream and 1 teaspoon each sugar and ground ginger to form soft peaks.

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