If you’re like me, you have been enjoying the strawberries this spring. Fortunately, we can purchase, pick, eat and preserve local produce!


If you’re like me, you have been enjoying the strawberries this spring. Fortunately, we can purchase, pick, eat and preserve local produce!



However, the season is winding down, so savor these last few weeks of local strawberries!



The strawberry is the most popular berry in the United States. Strawberries are the only fruit with about 200 seeds on the outside.



Nutritional benefits are as follows:



•A 12-ounce container of strawberries has just 97 calories with no cholesterol, fat or sodium. One cup equals 55 calories.



•Eight strawberries provide 4 grams of fiber, 20 percent of the daily value for folate, and 140 percent of vitamin C — more than that in one orange.



•Strawberries are an important source of potassium, one of the minerals featured in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet developed to decrease blood pressure.



•In a USDA study, strawberries had the greatest total antioxidant capacity of 17 fruits and juices tested.



•Strawberries are so delicious that you can get your daily-recommended fruits and vegetables quickly. You can eat them at breakfast, lunch or dinner!



In purchasing and picking strawberries, remember that 1 pint equals 2 ¼ cups sliced berries or about 3 ¼ cups whole berries. This might be 12-36 berries, depending on size. One cup of sliced fresh berries equals one 10-ounce package of frozen berries.



Strawberries do not ripen after they’re picked, so choose plump, bright red berries with a natural sheen and fresh, green caps. Sort and remove bruised or damaged berries as soon as possible and use in sauces, purees, jams or smoothies.



To store, place berries in cool, well-ventilated containers. Fresh strawberries’ moisture content is high, so store them unwashed, uncovered or loosely covered. Careful storing and handling will maintain their maximum flavor, color and texture.



Call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa Extension office, 689-5850, if you need information on freezing berries or making jam.



HOMETOWN PRODUCE



Strawberries may be available 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Crestview Farmers Market on Main Street.



Elaine Courtney is a Family & Consumer Sciences Extension agent at the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.