The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and strawberry season has arrived in North Carolina. Farmers markets and roadside stands are filling up with the blushing springtime treats, but don’t wait long because these delicious beauties will be gone before you know it!
The North Carolina strawberry season is short and sweet.
It typically begins in the coastal areas around late April and
gradually moves across the state to finish in early June in the mountains. The season started earlier this year and is expected to end earlier. Visit your local strawberry farm or farmers market and enjoy this season’s crop before it’s too late.
Strawberry breeder Dr. Jeremy Pattison, with the N.C. State Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus, is working to breed a strawberry that will have a longer growing season. As part of the N.C. Strawberry Project, he teamed up with Johnson & Wales University (JWU) to get feedback from the culinary industry. In addition, Chef Mark Allison and JWU students have created delicious strawberry recipes. Learn how the N.C. Strawberry Project is getting these chefs-of-tomorrow out on local farms and how the public has contributed to the project. Also view videos
of Chef Mark Allison and The Produce Lady (Brenda Sutton) preparing strawberry recipes, including the “Strawberry Shrimp Cocktail” recipe that we feature in this issue.
ENJOYING THE PERFECT BERRY
Choose berries that are firm and have a bright red color.
Strawberries that are very dark red (sometimes almost a wine color) are likely overripe, while very light red strawberries won’t be ripe enough. The perfect berries will also have that wonderful strawberry aroma that wafts through the springtime air. Once you’ve purchased your berries, wait to wash them until just before you plan to eat or prepare them. Strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator, but only for a few days.
Save Some for Later
A great way to enjoy North Carolina strawberries outside of strawberry season is to buy extra berries and freeze them.
• Choose fresh strawberries. Freeze as soon as possible.
• Remove the caps (the green leaves at the top).
• Wash the strawberries in cold water, making sure to remove any additional leaves or any berries that may have soft spots.
• In a colander, drain the berries well. It’s a good idea to
let them sit, draining, for about 15 minutes.
• Place the strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until they are frozen (overnight).
• Remove the berries from the baking sheet. Store in a ziptop freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag.
• Label and date the bag and stick it back in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy them.
• To thaw frozen strawberries, remove the quantity that you would like from the freezer bag and place in a bowl or bag in
the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours.
Now you can enjoy North Carolina strawberries, including all of their health benefits, year-round!
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A Delicious, Nutritious Snack
Strawberries are a tasty treat and a super source of nutrition. They contain fiber, phytonutrients, potassium and vitamin C that contribute to a healthier you! One serving of strawberries contains only 50 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Contributing Writer: Kristen Bright
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