Strawberries, Nutritious and Delicious

— Written By Eleanor Summers and last updated by

Sweet, fragrant strawberries are a sure sign of summer! Locally grown strawberries that are in season taste the best and are the best bang for your buck. Look for bright and fully red, medium sized, plump, unblemished, fragrant, glossy, slightly soft berries with the hull, stem, and cap intact. Avoid berries with soft or brown spots.

Use strawberries as soon after harvesting or purchasing as possible. Refrigerator storage does not improve the quality of fresh strawberries. Berries should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours.

Store unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most. Do not wash berries until ready to use.

To wash, place berries in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold running water. Do not allow berries to set in water, as they will lose color and flavor. After washing, remove the green cap with a plastic-tipped vegetable peeler or paring knife without removing any of the fruit.

One serving, about 8 strawberries, provides more vitamin C than an orange! Strawberries are fairly low in calories and carbohydrates and contain 55 calories per one cup serving. Further, one cup of strawberries contains only 8 grams of sugar.

Follow this recipe for Strawberry Dessert from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. Ingredients: ½ purchased angel food cake, 1 (0.3 oz.) package sugar-free strawberry gelatin, ¾ cup boiling water, 1 pint fresh strawberries, 1 packet Sweet One (acesulfame-K), ¼ cup evaporated skim milk, chilled. Directions: (1) Break angel food cake into bite-size pieces in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. (2) Dissolve gelatin into boiling water. Cook in refrigerator for 30 minutes. (3) Wash strawberries and set aside the 8 best looking strawberries for garnish. (4) Stem and trim blemishes from remaining strawberries. Put strawberries, sweetener, evaporated milk and gelatin mixture in a blender. Process until well blended and fluffy. (5) Pour fruit mixture over angel food cake. Fold until cake pieces are coated and equally distributed. (6) Pour into a 1-½ quart oblong casserole dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving time. (7) To serve, cut into squares and garnish with a strawberry fan made from the reserved strawberries. Serves 8 with 93 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrate per serving.