Cricket Murray, a former dietetic student from YSU, wrote this piece to reveal the many nutritional benefits of the strawberry in honor of National Strawberry Month, which happens to be in May. While May would make most sense for Floridians or Californians, residents of Ohio have to wait just a little bit longer to enjoy this wonderful, seasonal fruit. So here we are in the beginning of June with the long-awaited –and lucky for us, bountiful–arrival of local strawberries. Enjoy!
Savor the Flavor! May is National Strawberry Month
Blog post by Cricket Murray, YSU Coordinated Program in Dietetics
How’s that saying go? April showers bring May…strawberries. Okay maybe that’s not quite right, but May is National Strawberry Month. So, let’s count the ways we can appreciate these tiny, heart‐shaped antioxidant powerhouses.
What’s so spectacular about this fruit?
Strawberries are notorious for their high vitamin C content, but they are also great sources of fiber, folate, and disease fighting phytochemicals. Clinical research has shown strawberries to be beneficial for heart health, protecting against certain types of cancer, blood sugar control (due to their low glycemic index and high fiber) and they may even help fight depression thanks to the strawberry’s high folate profile. To truly harness these benefits, it’s best to eat them fresh since processing (jams, jellies, juice, etc.) decreases the nutritional composition.
Commercial vs Locally Grown
Approximately 83% of the nation’s commercially grown strawberries come from California. Florida produces strawberries during the winter months and a small percent are imported from Mexico. Unfortunately, strawberries tend to be insect magnets. Growing large fields of strawberries can be risky and often requires the use of pesticides to keep the crop from being destroyed. Because of this, strawberries have routinely been on the dreaded EWG’s “dirty dozen” list for pesticide contamination. One benefit of purchasing from a local farm is you most likely will be able to inquire about the growing practices. Smaller strawberry fields may use fewer pesticides, plus smaller strawberries are more likely to pack more flavor!
For the Ambitious: Grow Your Own!
Growing your own strawberries can be fun and rewarding.
One way to involve your kids is to start your plant seeds in ice cream cones filled with soil.
These biodegradable containers can be planted straight into the ground once your plant is about an inch tall. Of course, there’s no guarantee that your kids won’t eat the cones, but hopefully they’ll do that before they’re filled with dirt.
Storing Your Strawberries
Strawberries love cool temperatures and high humidity so store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. To prevent water loss and shriveling, refrigerate them in plastic containers or in a partially opened plastic bag to maintain high humidity. Subdue your inner clean freak and resist the urge to wash them unless you plan on eating them immediately. Storing strawberries wet will only cause them to spoil more quickly. If stored properly, they can keep up to 7 days. And lastly, sometimes we may buy more than we can chew. Freezing, drying, or making jams is a great way to preserve your fruit and stretch your seasonal purchase.
Now that I’ve officially used the word strawberry 18 times and you’ve reached the point where you want to stop reading and just eat some already, I will leave you with a recipe to try this season.
This 5 Ingredient Strawberry Salsa is sweet, simple to make, and so delicious!
PREP TIME: 10 MINS COOK TIME: 0 MINS TOTAL TIME: 10 MINS
1 pint strawberries, hulled and finely diced
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
half of a small red onion, peeled and finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup finelychopped fresh cilantro, looselypacked
juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
(pinch of salt and black pepper)
Toss all ingredients together until combined. Season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.
*If you would like a sweeter salsa, feel free to stir in a few teaspoons of warmed honey.
DIFFICULTY: EASY CATEGORY:
VEGAN INGREDIENTS: CILANTRO, JALAPEÑO, RED ONION, STRAWBERRIES
*Recipe from gimmesomeoven.com
Giampieri, F (2012) The strawberry: Composition, nutritional quality, and impact on human health. Nutrition Journal 28(1).
Retrieved from www.nutritionjnrl.com
Harris, L.J., Mitcham, E. (2007) Strawberries: Safe methods to store, preserve, and enjoy. Publication 8256. University of
California: Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved from www.anrcatalog.ucanr.edu