Strawberries are the most popular type of berry in the world. Although you can often find them year-round, they are at their best from April through July. The farmer’s markets in California are overflowing with them these days!
There are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture. Most commercially grown strawberries come from a single variety. Cultivation of this particular variety has been taking place for nearly 300 years. However, wild strawberries are known to have existed for thousands of years. In the U.S., commercial strawberry production is largely produced in California and Florida. Therefore, like most other fruits, strawberries remained a luxury item for the wealthy until the mid-19th century, until railways were built providing affordable long distance shipping.
Strawberry Buying Tips:
According to the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown strawberries are among the most pesticide-contaminated fruits in America. Buy organic whenever you can.
Strawberries are very perishable, and should only be purchased a few days before use. Once picked, they do not continue to ripen. So only choose ones that are firm, plump, and have a shiny, deep red color. Those ones with white, green, or yellow parts will be sour and won’t get any better with time. Fully ripe strawberries don’t just taste better, they also have the most nutrients (vitamin C and phytonutrients).
Medium-sized strawberries are often the best. If you they’re prepackaged in a container, make sure that they’re loosely packed so that they’re not bruised or damaged, and that the container has no stains or excess moisture.
If you’re going to refrigerate them place them in the cold storage bins or a sealed container. Strawberries prefer moderately high humidity. Also be sure to remove any strawberries that are damaged or moldy to avoid contaminating the others. Avoid exposing strawberries to room temperature or direct sunlight for too long, as it will cause them rapidly spoil.
To freeze strawberries, first wash them and pat them dry. Adding a bit of lemon juice will help to preserve their color. Then freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a plastic bag and return them to the freezer. They’ll keep for up to one year.
Why They’re Good for You:
When you think of vitamin C, most people think citrus fruits. But did you know that a single serving of strawberries (1 cup, or just 8 large berries) has 113% of your daily Vitamin C?! They’re also a great source of manganese, fiber, folate, and a long list of other vitamins and minerals. Strawberries are actually ranked as the 3rd best source of antioxidants among all US foods (including all other fruits, veggies, and even spices)!
Research studies have shown strawberries to
- Actually improve cardiovascular health (decreased oxidation of fats, decreased levels of circulating fats, and decreased levels of enzymes causing high blood pressure).
- Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating strawberries with table sugar has been shown to reduce the resulting spike in blood sugar.
- Reduce cancer risk (specifically breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal), presumably due to their reduction of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Lower levels of inflammatory markers like CRP.
- Improve inflammatory bowel problems—including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
- Improve inflammation-related arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), and inflammation-related diseases of the eye (including macular degeneration).
- Enhance cognitive and motor function with aging.
Most studies saw these benefits with as little as 1-2 cups of strawberries per day for 3 days/week.
Favorite Strawberry Recipes:
Strawberries are great on their own, and make a perfect raw snack. However, if you want to mix things up, check out these great desserts: