Strawberries or garden strawberries is a sweet fleshy red fruit from the plant of the genus Fragaria, from the same family as roses (fam. Rosaceae).
They can be consumed fresh, dried, or made into preserves. Strawberries also have a bleaching effect on the skin and are an excellent source of vitamin C.
In Medieval times it was considered to be aphrodisiac, and a soup made of it was served as breakfast to the newly wedded.
The average strawberry is about 1.5 inches and varies in diameter. The face would be the shape of an apple and be thinner on the bottom and thicker on the top.
It has a scaly texture because it's seeds are on the outside of the strawberries. Seeds are perfectly fine to consume.
On top of each strawberry are the green leaves that most people use to hold the strawberry while consuming them. They also make a very appealing look when using strawberries on a try or platter (chocolate covered strawberries).
Strawberries are best eaten when it is ruby red in color but not to soft to the touch.
Selecting and Buying
Strawberries do not ripen further once they are removed from the plant, altho they may intensify in color. The juiciest, sweetest berries are those that have been allowed to fully ripen on the plant.
While fresh berries can be found almost year-round in U.S. grocery stores, many people will swear by the vast superiority of hand-picked and locally-grown berries. These berries are freshest and have been handled far less than berries sold in stores.
Look for berries at markets or roadside stands, or look for farms that have strawberries available for the picking in late spring and summer. A morning of strawberry-picking makes for a unique family activity with a sweet reward.
Strawberries are one of the most widely grown fruits in the United States with some varieties being more suited to geographical locations than others.
The plants grow close to the ground, so they do involve bending or kneeling to pick. Part the leaves to find gorgeous red berries. Pick only those that are red all over as they are truly ripe and best flavor. With the stem cradled between 2 fingers, give the berry a light pull and twist.
Preparation and Use
• When strawberries are used in a sauce or dressing, their flavor can be brought out by fresh ground black pepper, used sparingly.
• Frozen strawberries, when individually quick-frozen (see above) can function as ice cubes in special juices or alcoholic drinks.
• Sugar encourages strawberry juices to flow. Heighten their flavor when using them in sweet dishes by allowing them to sit in sugar beforehand or by giving them a light sugar sprinkling.
Before cleaning the strawberries, go through them and discard any that are damaged, bruised or spoiled.
To clean strawberries, gently wipe off each berry with a wet paper towel. If it is necessary to wash the strawberries, place them in a colander and gently rinse them under cool water before removing the stems. If the stem is removed the water will have a greater affect on the texture and flavor of the strawberries. After washing, immediately pat the strawberries dry with a paper towel. If any of the berries have small blemish spots, remove that area with a paring knife.
To remove stems, insert a thin-bladed knife or huller between the berry and leaves and pop off the cap. No need to remove part of the berry with the cap.
Conserving and Storing
Use strawberries as soon as possible after picking or purchasing; they are best when eaten within 2-3 days.
Leave the green “caps” on the strawberries until using the berries in order to help maintain freshness and nutritional content.
Keep fresh strawberries refrigerated until using them. They will keep best if laid out in single layers on paper towels and then placed in a storage container or covered with plastic wrap.
Wash strawberries just before using them.
Strawberries can be frozen for up to a year and are best if frozen with sugar. Expect your defrosted strawberries to take on a much softer texture than fresh berries.
This softness can be minimized by individual quick freezing. Space them out on flat trays and keep them in the coldest part of the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can move them from the trays into storage containers or plastic freezer bags.
If you plan to use them in jams or other baking needs, they don’t necessarily need the sugar preservation but could be doused with a water and lemon juice mixture.
When you’re ready to consume your frozen berries, start by defrosting them in the refrigerator, which will help them to maintain the best possible shape and texture.
Don’t re-freeze strawberries.