Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May is National Strawberry Month!

Did you know that the very merry month of May is National Strawberry Month? It's true! And because crops are coming in earlier than normal this year (two weeks ahead in Maryland), we're getting an early treat.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture shares these tips for selecting the very best strawberries:

Strawberry Facts and Tips
  • Select plump, firm, fully red berries. The small berries are often most flavorful.
  • Strawberries measurements: 1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups and is about the same as 1 liter and weighs 1.25 lbs to 1.5 lbs (or 600 to 700 g). The weight varies on variety and weather conditions.  1 quart is normally enough for 4 servings
  • One cup of strawberries contains around 43 calories.
  • Unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • U-pick strawberry farms typically sell berries by the pound. A quart equals 1 and 1/2 pounds of fresh berries.
  • It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pick a quart if the berries are reasonably plentiful.
  • You can easily freeze berries that you cannot use right away - just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a ziplock bag, removing as much air as possible. Vacuum food sealers do a good job of this! The berries will keep for many months frozen without air.
Cooking Light has a lot of terrific healthy recipes using strawberries -- from a tuned up classic strawberry shortcake to a fresh chicken and strawberry salad to an amazing grilled peanut butter and banana split sandwich for the kids. You're sure to find a delicious, healthy way to include this month's favorite fruit in your menus.

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