By: Judy Davie - information sourced from Queensland Strawberries
Queensland strawberries are ripe for the picking, and there are so many reasons to enjoy them. Eating eight strawberries a day has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve memory and heart health.
Eight strawberries also contains more vitamin C than one orange.
Eating strawberries on a regular basis may lower the risk of some cancers and help reduce obesity.
Strawberries provide essential nutrients and minerals including fibre, potassium, vitamin C and powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins, quercetin and ellagic acid.
Strawberries are low in calories (about 45 per serve - a serving size of strawberries is one cup).
Information sourced qldstrawberries.com.au
One important point to raise when it comes to buying strawberries is to eat them within 2 - 3 days of buying or freeze what you can't eat straight away. Greengrocers will often offer a discount when you buy 2 or more punnets of strawberries when they have to move stock. Unlike bananas, pears and other fruits which ripen after picking and will store well over an extended period of time, strawberries must be picked when they're ripe and sweet otherwise they'll be sour. A sweet ripe strawberry has a short window of enjoyment and you should seize it straight away. The greengrocer can't store the punnets for an extended length of time and nor can you. It's worth remembering if, like me you look for special deals. There's no point in buying berries to last the week. You won't save money if the berries perish before you get to them and it's not the fault of the greengrocer if they do. It's just the nature of strawberries.
Here are some interesting facts I found on the Queensland strawberry site.
Strawberries grow close to the ground, strewn amongst the leaves. They were originally known as strewberries before the name changed to strawberries.
Strawberries were originally cultivated in ancient Rome, but species are also found in Russia, Chile, and the United States.
The American Indians ate strawberries before the Colonists arrived. The crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, Colonists developed their own version of the recipe and Strawberry Shortcake was created.
In France, strawberries were cultivated in the 13th Century for use as a medicinal herb. Historical Medicinal Uses of Fragaria Vesca (Alpine Strawberry): It is said that the leaves, roots and fruits of this variety of strawberry were used for a digestive or skin tonic. Internally, the berry was used for diarrhoea and digestive upset, while the leaves and the roots were used for gout. Externally, it was used for sunburn and skin blemishes, and the fruit juice was used for discoloured teeth.
Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other.
The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shapes and red color.
Selecting the perfect strawberry
When choosing strawberries, pick the ones that are firm, plump and fragrant with a bright, glossy red colouring. The calyx (the green cap on top) should be bright green and look fresh. Good strawberries should be firm but not crunchy. Turn the punnet over to ensure that there is no juice or mould present - this would indicate that the fruit is old.
Strawberries do not ripen after they have been picked so select fruit that is fully red on the surface - this indicates that it's at the right state of maturity and will offer maximum sweetness and flavour.
Storing your strawberries
Strawberries need to be kept cool so get them into your fridge as soon as you can and keep them there until you are ready to use them.
Strawberry flavour is best at room temperature so take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving. Avoid washing or removing their caps until you are ready to use them. This helps to retain the flavour, texture and nutrients of the berry.
If you do see a great deal on strawberries you can always freeze what you can't eat. Frozen strawberries don't have the texture of fresh but are still great to use in smoothies and frozen desserts. Because of their high water content there is a risk of freezer burn, so it is best to use them up within six months.
1.Wash and gently dry the strawberries. Just a quick wash - no soaking for too long as this will reduce flavor and nutrients.
2.Hull the berries and remove any ones that are spoiled (save these for jams and coulis - see recipe page for ideas)
3.Place the strawberries on a baking sheet, spread out so they are not touching each other, and freeze until solid.
4.Transfer the strawberries to plastic resealable bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to six months.