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Monday, February 25, 2013

Strawberries:


Strawberries are the most popular berry fruit in the world.  A member of the rose family,  strawberries are what are called an aggregate accessory fruit.  That means that fleshy part is not from the plant's ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries.  Each "seed" on the outside is actually one of the ovaries of the flower with a seed inside.

Ancient Roman literature mentions strawberries for medicinal purposes.  The Strawberry is found in European Art and Literature symboloizing perfect righteousness.  The entire strawberry plant was used to treat depressive illnesses.

I remember seeing my uncle in the family store culling through pints of strawberries picking out the very best for a customer.  Strawberries are very perishable and no respectable produce man will trash a whole pint just for the sake of one or two bad berries. I culled many pints during my career.  The first time I went to a "You pick-um" place,  it was on Long Island to pick some strawberries.    More recently I remeber when "Strawberry Shortcake" dolls and accessories  were the rage.    My wife and I decorated our daughter's room in "Strawberry Shortcake".  It was complete with "Strawberry Shortcake" wallpaper and a window seat.

 Strawberries are ranked among the 50 best antioxidant sources among commonly eaten foods.  It is fourth among all fruits (behind  blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries).  Strawberries have a unique combination of  antioxidant and anti-inflammatoray nutrients.  Reasearch shows health benefits in cardiovascular support and prevention of cardiovascular disease, improved regulation of blood sugar with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and prevention of certain cancer types including breast, cervical, colon, and esophogeal cancer. 

Commercially grown strawberries are available almost year round.  Peak season is April through July.  Strawberries can be grown almost anywhere in the world.  If you'd like to try your had at growing your own, the best time to plant is in the late summer or spring.  Plant in full sun with somewhat sandy soil.  The addition of manure and balanced fertilizer aids strong growth.  They can be planted in pots or special planters using compost.  Moisture is essential during fruit formation.  The fruit matures in midsummer.  Pick when it is a uniform bright red color.  Strawberries do not ripen after they have been harvested.

Strawberries should be purchased just a few days prior to use.  Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold with shiny deep red color and attached green caps.  Do not wash berries until just before use.  Remember, they do not ripen after they have been picked.    Consume either fresh or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, and chocolates. 

So...... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.