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Health Food of the month - Strawberries

June 2020


Lots of strawberries


Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Skyr

Chillies

Ube


 

Diet & Supplements Index

June is strawberry month, and despite the current problems, nothing has changed on the strawberry front.

Right now beautiful fresh strawberries are coming into the shops from all across England. Of course you can today buy strawberries all year round thanks to imports and also to some specific species that ripen early.  But now, in June, it is the very top time for locally grown fresh strawberries. They may have been grown in polytunnels, but this doesn’t diminish the fruit or flavour.

There are many varieties of strawberries. Traditionally one of the most popular was a Dutch variety called Elsanta as it was resistant to disease and had a high yield, but it had a fairly bland taste. Then seven years ago a Kent organisation developed the Malling Centenary which had a richer, deeper flavour.

More recently other varieties have become favourites as growers and retailers realised that flavour was more important than size and appearance.

Importance of colour

The redness of the strawberry is very important as it indicates ripeness which in turn will indicate depth of flavour.   Strawberries are ripe when the entire fruit is red all over including to the very tip. The redness indicates higher sugar content and deeper flavour and the fruit needs to be red right up to the tip; often you see strawberries with white or greenish tips. This means the strawberry was picked just before it was really ready and the flavour could be sharper and more tart.

It is interesting that strawberries won’t ripen any further once they have been picked, even if you leave them in the sun or pop them into a brown paper bag.  If you buy an unripe strawberry, it will remain unripe, probably hard and lacking flavour.

Storing strawberries is still a problem – they have a notoriously short shelf life and need to be used quickly. For many of us now relying on spasmodic online deliveries, this can be a problem as there is no point over ordering strawberries; they simply will not keep.

Storing and Freezing

The important thing about strawberries is to keep them dry as well as cold; this will help to avoid any mould forming. Simply arrange them on a paper towel on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge.

You can freeze strawberries, but it needs to be done carefully and even then the flavour may be diminished and certainly the fruit will be a lot softer that a fresh strawberry. They are easy to freeze though; simply arrange them onto a single layer of baking paper on a small tray and freeze; then transfer them into a normal freezer container or bag. It is worth trying to remove as much air as possible by pressing out the air or filling the container before sealing to avoid freezer burn.

But of course fresh strawberries taste the best and this great tasting summer fruit is also surprising good for us. While a strawberry mainly consists of water (91%), the rest is packed with goodness. For a start, they contain good quantities of vitamin C A 3.5 ounce serving of fresh strawberries, or about five large berries, will provide around 59 milligrams of vitamin C. Ounce for ounce, strawberries are slightly higher in this essential vitamin than oranges.  Strawberries also provide manganese, folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. In very small quantities, they also offer iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins B6, K and E.

Another benefit from these lovely little red fruits is their high level of polyphenols, or antioxidants. Plus they are sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free and low in calories. They really are a super fruit in every way.

A final good thing about strawberries is that if you over order, rather than letting them go bad, you can use them is a vast number of lovely recipes and even drinks. No wonder strawberries are one of our favourite foods.


 


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