It’s June - a time for strawberries. Strawberries are packed with nutrition. They contain more vitamin C than an equal amount of orange slices. One cup contains 150% of vitamin C per day, whereas oranges, still a very good source, contain 100%.
Fiber is also found in strawberries. One cup of raw strawberries provides 3 grams of fiber as well as manganese, folate and potassium as well as the phytonutrients lutein, zeaxanthin, ellagic acid and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the pigment that makes strawberries red.
We can enjoy one cup of strawberries for only 50 calories. If you add sugar to the berries, the sugar adds another 50 calories for each tablespoon of sugar sprinkled on.
In a few weeks we hope to see strawberry U pick signs going up. Picking your own strawberries is a fun family outing. Penn State Extension has a newly-revised Let’s Preserve Series. The fact sheet on strawberries tells the recommended variety to freeze and how to best freeze them. Here is the abbreviated version, along with a recipe for uncooked strawberry jam and spinach salad.
To freeze whole berries without sugar, wash, cap and drain the berries. Tray freezing will prevent the berries from sticking together. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan and freeze until solid. Then transfer them to plastic freezer bags pressing out as much air as possible. The expansion of frozen water in the berry will rupture its cell walls, causing the berry to soften when thawed. Therefore, these taste best when eaten in a slightly-thawed state with a few ice crystals remaining.
To freeze, whole, sliced or crushed strawberries in sugar, add ¾ cup sugar to 1 quart strawberries. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved and let stand for 15 minutes before putting into containers. Soft sliced berries will yield sufficient syrup for covering if the fruit is layered with sugar and allowed to stand 15 minutes.
Artificial sweeteners may be used to freeze berries, but they do not provide the beneficial effects of sugar such as color protection and thickness of syrup. Use the manufacturer’s directions to determine the amount of artificial sweetener to use. Artificial sweeteners can also be added after the berries are thawed.
Uncooked Strawberry Jam from Fresh Fruit
1 3⁄4 cups crushed strawberries (about 1 quart)
4 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz)
Yields approx. 4 half-pint jars
Measure 1 3⁄4 cups of crushed strawberries. Place in an extra-large bowl.
Add sugar, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Measure lemon juice into a small bowl. Add liquid pectin and stir well.
Stir into fruit and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Pour jam into freezer containers or canning jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
1 pound fresh spinach, washed and patted dry
1/4 pound (1 cup) strawberries, sliced or quartered
1/4 cup of sliced red onion
½ cup walnuts
Toss with salad dressing:
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
Blend well with wire whisk or fork. Yield: 6 servings
For your copy of Let’s Preserve, call 825-1701 and state which fruit or vegetable you are interested in learning more about.