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Strawberries: The star of springtime

These sweet little gems can be used in way more than just desserts

Springtime in Kentucky can bring few options in the fresh produce department. Greens, lettuces and onions are in season but the star of springtime can often be thought of as the strawberry. This fruit is very versatile and can be used in many dishes and treats,  from smoothies to salads and drinks to desserts.

Here’s what you need to know when you venture out to get some strawberries. Look for berries that have a full red color, bright luster and firm, plump flesh. 

Choose fully ripe berries. Deep red colored berries with no blemishes or mold are super sweet. 

Please note that strawberries do not ripen after being picked. They’re not like melons, so you have to be patient and pick them when they’re ripe. 

The caps should be bright green, fresh looking and fully attached. Don’t eat the green part though. It’s not very good. 

Berries should be dry and clean; usually medium to small berries have better eating quality than large ones. Avoid berries with large uncolored or seedy areas or those with a dull, soft look.

Use strawberries as soon after purchase as possible. Strawberries aren’t the type of fruit that last long in the fridge. Remove the berries from their container. Leaving the caps on the berries, sort and gently arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other shallow container.                                                                       Strawberry Beet Smoothie

Store them in the refrigerator immediately. Just before serving, wash them in gently flowing cold water in a colander. Drain and remove caps by giving them an easy twist with a strawberry huller or sharp knife. 

One way I’ve learned to hull a strawberry without wasting a bunch of the fruit is to punch a straw through the bottom up to pop off the green part and take the middle out.

One cup of unsweetened berries contains only 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Did you know that one cup of strawberries contains all the vitamin C you need for a day? Who says you have to drink orange juice to get vitamin C … Just eat some strawberries and call it a day.

How can you get more strawberries in your diet? Great question! You can add them to smoothies, top a salad, bake them in muffins or add them to your favorite desserts. 

Strawberry jam is one of the easiest recipes of all time. Don’t be afraid to use that jam on more than just toast. Strawberry jam goes great on ice cream, in the middle of a strawberry shortcake, on fancy brie cheese and waffles.

I’m going to keep the wordy part short and sweet this week seeing as I’d like to share lots of recipes with you. I hope you try them. 

Before I go, I do want to mention that the strawberry beet smoothie recipe you have is absolutely delicious. Sounds weird but it works — and I promise you can’t taste the beets. Try it — I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to email me at a.price@uky.edu.