A Harbinger of Summer: Strawberries
Strawberries were first cultivated in ancient Rome. Well, that’s not a surprise as Romans knew how to be indulgent. I believe strawberries are now the most popular berry fruit in the world. But, did you know that in provincial France, they were regarded as an aphrodisiac?
One of the interesting facts about strawberries that they are actually a member of the rose family. Therefore, they are not really a fruit or a berry but the enlarged receptacle of the flower. I recently had some strawberries growing right outside my front door. The seeds must have been carried by the wind because I didn’t plant them. Possums come and help themselves like they do with my chilli plant but before the possums get their hands or teeth on them, they look just like flowers.
What to look for
Once picked, strawberries will not ripen any further. So, they need to be very fresh. And, the riper they are, the higher their vitamin C content. Choose rich red, firm, plump and even coloured strawberries with fresh green leaves attached. Check the underside of the punnet and avoid mouldy or squashed strawberries.
How to prepare
Wash strawberries carefully first as they are delicate creatures. Then, remove the green stems just before using.
How to store
Unfortunately, strawberries do not last very long once they are picked. Store them in the fridge up to 2 days. It is best to consume strawberries the day you buy them. If this is not the case, you could freeze them and later on add to your smoothies. The other way of extending their life is by making strawberry jam.
Where to use
Strawberries are usually consumed fresh but they are also good in jams, fruit salads (or savoury salads) and desserts. Dried strawberries are also added to our muesli.
Strawberries are among the top twenty fruits when it comes to antioxidant activity—being particularly high in polyphenols. They are a good source of manganese, potassium, fibre and vitamin C. Actually they have more vitamin C than oranges or lemons. Strawberries are also very good for the heart, they increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer.