Ingredient of the Week, February 10: Strawberries
The Name Strawberry was derived from the berries that are "strewn" about on the plants, and "strewn berry" eventually became "Strawberry".
They are from the Rosaceae family (the same family that roses are in). They are not berries or fruit at all, but enlarged ends of the plant's stamen. Strawberry seeds are on the outer skin, instead of in the inner berry, There are about 200 seeds per berry.
One cup of strawberries (144 grams) contains approximately 45 calories.
The berries are non-fat and low in calories, rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, fiber, and vitamin B6. Over history the strawberries have been used in medicines. They have been used for sunburn, discolored teeth, digestion, and gout. As far back as the 13th century,the Strawberry was used as an anaphrodisiac.
Strawberries were served at medieval state events, they symbolized prosperity, peace, and perfection. The most famous public eating of strawberries is at Wimbledon each year, when strawberries and cream are consumed between tennis matches by properly attired English. It is also known that Russian empresses also loved them.
American Indians allegedly invented Strawberry shortcake, mashing berries in meal to make bread the colonists enjoyed.
Selecting & Storing
As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large. If you are buying strawberries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly (which may cause them to become crushed and damaged) and that the container has no signs of stains or moisture, indication of possible spoilage.
The very fragile nature of strawberries means that great care should be taken in their handling and storage. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are molded or damaged so that they will not contaminate others. Place the unwashed and unhulled berries in a sealed container to prevent unnecessary loss of humidity. Strawberries will maintain excellent nutrient content if properly stored in a refrigerator for two days. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.
To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact, depending upon what you will do with them once they are thawed. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the berries will help to preserve their color. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
Add sliced strawberries to mixed green salad.
Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.
Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce.
Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
I love the smell of them and of course, the taste. Strawberry shortcake, Sprawberry pie, Strawberry sundae, Strawberry preserves, in salads, or just for eating out of hand. What is your favorite way of eating them? Please share your favorite recipes.