All About Strawberries

By Nancy D. Berkoff, RD, EdD,
CCE

The Romans prized wild
strawberries for their medicinal properties. And wise they were; ounce for
ounce, strawberries have more Vitamin C than most citrus fruit. Frais du bois,
or wild strawberries, were very popular in Europe. They were very small, and flavorful,
and grew so bountifully in the wild that no one bothered to cultivate them. In
1714, Francois Amedee Frezier created large strawberries by crossing two types
of wild strawberries……and an industry was born!

According to the American
Cancer Society, foods rich in Vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the
gastrointestinal tract. Over the years, herbalists have thought that
strawberries were a tonic, diuretic, remineralizer, and astringent. Strawberry
leaves brewed as a tea were thought to relieve diarrhea, while eating too much
of the fruit is known to cause it! Strawberry essence used in cosmetics was
thought to combat wrinkles and freckles; well, at least they gave the creams
and lotions a very nice aroma.

If you actually get past washing and eating strawberries, think about freezing some of them for the winter months. Simply wash, hull (remove leaves and white “shoulders”) and dry whole strawberries. Place them, single file, on a sheet pan and allow them to freeze. Once frozen, they can be piled into containers or bags. If fresh or frozen strawberries lose their color, they can be spruced up with a bit of lemon juice (which, coincidentally, adds a bit more Vitamin C).

Mash ripe or frozen
strawberries with a little maple syrup, if necessary for added sweetness, and
some citrus liqueur to create a fast dessert sauce or the basis of a blender
beverage. Create a strawberry salsa with chopped strawberries, chilies (you
chose the heat), red onion, and ground black pepper. Blend ripe strawberries
with silken tofu, a small amount of ground ginger, and some orange zest and use
as the filling for a strawberry cheesecake or frozen strawberry pops. For a
make-ahead dessert, create strawberry skewers and allow to marinate, in the
refrigerator, in a blend of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup until ready to
serve.