UM Organic Community Garden

- ADDRESS -

- 1284 County Road 10, Montevallo, AL 35115 -

University of Montevallo Organic Community Garden

- Strawberry -

Spring
Strawberries


Planting Strawberries and Growing Tips


Strawberries are incredibly easy to grow. Strawberry plants can be grown almost anywhere – in borders, containers or hanging baskets. And of course the fruit is extremely popular – home-grown strawberries taste delicious and are great value too!

Jump to

  • Grow
  • Plant
  • Harvest
  • Varieties
  • Problems
  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile
  • Growing

    Water frequently while new plants are establishing. Also water during dry periods in the growing season. Water from the bottom as water from overhead can rot the crown and fruit.

    During the growing season, give strawberry plants a liquid potash feed – such as a tomato feed – every 7 to 14 days. In early spring, apply general fertiliser such as Growmore at a rate of 50g per sq m (2oz per sq yd).

    In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, it is possible to bring forward flowering by several weeks, so long as the temperature does not go above 16°C (61°F), because this will inhibit flowering. You will also need to hand pollinate the flowers.

    As fruits start to develop, tuck straw underneath them to prevent the strawberries from rotting on the soil. Otherwise use individual fibre mats if these are not already in position. The straw or matting will also help to suppress weeds. Weeds that do emerge should be pulled out by hand.

    After cropping has finished, remove the old leaves from summer-fruiting strawberries with secateurs or hand shears. Also remove the straw mulch, fibre mat, or black polythene, to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases.

    Expect strawberry plants to crop successfully for three years before replacing them. Crop rotation is recommended to minimise the risk of an attack by pests and diseases in the soil.

    Planting

    Strawberries are so versatile – they just need sun, shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid areas prone to frost and soils that have previously grown potatoes, chrysanthemums, or tomatoes because they are all prone to the disease verticillium wilt.

    Buy plants from a trustworthy supplier so that the cultivars are what they say they are and the plants are disease free. Order plants in late summer so that they can be planted in early autumn. Strawberry plants bought as cold-stored runners should be planted from late spring to early summer and will fruit 60 days after planting.

    Runners look like little pieces of roots with very few leaves. Don’t be alarmed, this is how they should look. You can buy runners from late summer to early spring, and they should be planted in early autumn, or early spring (avoid planting in winter when the ground is wet and cold). You sometimes also see strawberries for sale in pots (normally from late spring onwards) and these can be planted as soon as you buy them.

    Strawberries are traditionally grown in rows directly into the garden soil – often referred to as the strawberry patch. Avoid windy sites which will prevent pollinating insects from reaching the flowers. In poor soils grow in raised beds, which improves drainage and increases rooting depth. Alternatively, try containers or growing-bags.

    Strawberry plants can be grown under a tunnel cloche to produce an earlier crop by up to seven to 10 days. Place the cloche over the plants in early spring, but remove or roll up the sides when the plants are flowering to give pollinating insects access.

    Strawberries in containers can also be grown in an unheated greenhouse, which encourages an even earlier crop, by 10–14 days. In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, it is possible to bring forward flowering by several weeks, so long as the temperature does not go above 16°C (61°F), because this will inhibit flowering. You will also need to hand pollinate the flowers.

    Strawberry types

    Summer-fruiting varieties are the largest and most popular. They have a short but heavy cropping period over two or three weeks. There are early, mid-, and late fruiting cultivars cropping from early to mid-summer.

    Perpetual strawberries – sometimes called everbearers – produce small flushes of fruits from early summer to early autumn. The crops are not so heavy as the summer-fruiting ones and the fruits are smaller, with the plants less likely to produce runners. Perpetual strawberries are useful for extending the season. To concentrate strawberry production in late summer and early autumn, remove the early summer flowers.

    Measure out planting holes 35cm (14in) apart. Dig out a hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Trim the roots lightly to 10cm (4in) if necessary, then spread them out in the hole. Ensure that the base of the crown rests lightly on the surface. Planting at the correct depth is important: if the crown is planted too deeply it will rot; if it is planted too shallowly the plants will dry out and die. If planting another row, place it 75cm (30in) away. A fibre mat can then be placed around each plant, or you can plant through black polythene. Water the plants well.

    Once the plant is at the correct depth, backfill the soil, keeping it off the crown and firming it around the plant using finger tips. If planting another row, place it 75cm (30in) away. Water the plants well. A fibre mat can then be placed around each plant, or you can plant through black polythene.

    Common problems

    Birds: Birds, especially pigeons, can cause an array of problems including eating seedlings, buds, leaves, fruit and vegetables.

    Remedy: Protect the plants from birds by covering them with netting or fleece. Scarecrows and bird-scaring mechanisms work for a while, but the most reliable method of protection is to cover plants with horticultural fleece or mesh.

    Powdery Mildew: Appears as a white powdery deposit over the leaf surface and leaves become stunted and shrivel.

    Remedy: Keep the soil moist, grow in cool locations, and spray using plant and fish oils or sulphur-based controls.

    Grey mould: Can be a problem in densely sown crops, especially ‘cut and come again’ veg crops. Seedlings suddenly collapse. This is a problem normally in wet conditions, and is usually worse on weak or damaged plants. The mould usually enters through a wound but, under the right conditions, even healthy plants will be infected. You will see fuzzy grey mould on affected buds, leaves, flowers or fruit. Infected plant parts eventually shrivel and die.

    Remedy: Sow thinly and when conditions are warm. Hygiene is very important in preventing the spread of grey mould. If you see it, remove the infected material and destroy. Grey mould is encouraged by overcrowding, so make sure you plant your seedlings, plants and squashes at the appropriate distance apart. 

    No fungicides are approved for use by amateur gardeners against grey mould. Products containing plant and fish oil blends may be used but are unlikely to have much impact.

    Fungal leaf spot: Irregular purple/brown spots surrounded by a yellow ring- the spotting spreads throughout the foliage especially in warm, humid conditions. The plant weaken when the infection is severe.

    Remedy: Remove affected leaves and ventilate covered crops.

    Vine weevil: Adult vine weevils eat notches in the edges of leaves, while plump, creamy white larvae with brown heads cause more damage to the roots, on which they feed. This can kill the plants.

    Remedy: Apply chemical control acetamiprid (Scotts Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer) or thiacloprid (Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2) as a liquid drench applied to the compost or the biological control, nematode Steinernema kraussei.

    Harvesting

    Pick strawberries when they are bright red all over, ideally during the warmest part of the day because this is when they are at their most tasty.

    Eat them as soon as possible; they do not keep well, but some can be frozen or made into preserves.

    What's New and Beneficial About Strawberries

    Many foods commonly consumed in the U.S. are valuable sources of antioxidants. But researchers have recently ranked the 50 best antioxidant sources among commonly eaten foods and found strawberries to be quite exceptional. When total antioxidant capacity was measured against a uniform amount of food (100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces), strawberries ranked 27th best among U.S. foods. In addition, when only fruits were considered, strawberries came out 4th among all fruits (behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries). However, since many foods (for example, spices and seasonings) are seldom consumed in amounts as large as 3.5 ounces, researchers also looked at common serving sizes for all foods and their total antioxidant capacity. In this evaluation based on common serving sizes, strawberries came out 3rd among all U.S. foods including spices, seasonings, fruits, and vegetables! (In this analysis based on serving size, only blackberries and walnuts scored higher in total antioxidant capacity.) When we hear the word "strawberry," we might think about a very commonplace fruit. But the antioxidant capacity of strawberry is anything but common!

    Recent research has shown strawberries to be a surprisingly fragile, perishable, and delicate fruit. Food scientists recently took a close look at storage time, storage temperature, storage humidity, and degree of strawberry ripeness and found significant differences between different types of strawberry storage. On average, studies show 2 days as the maximal time for strawberry storage without major loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. It's not that strawberries become dangerous to eat or invaluable after 2 days. It's just that more storage time brings along with it substantially more nutrient loss. In terms of humidity, 90-95% has been shown optimal. Most refrigerators will average a much lower humidity (between 80-90%). Because air circulation inside the fridge can lower humidity, you may want to give your strawberries more storage humidity by putting them in your refrigerator's cold storage bins (if available). Those cold storage bins will help boost humidity by reducing air circulation. If your fridge does not have storage bins, you can use a sealed container for refrigerator storage of your strawberries. Optimal temperature for strawberry storage over a 2-day period has been found to be relatively cold—36F (2C). All public health organizations recommend refrigerator temperatures of 40F (4.4C) as the maximum safe level for food storage. However, if you are storing sizable amounts of fruits and vegetables—including strawberries—in your refrigerator, you may want to consider setting your refrigerator to a lower-than-maximum temperature setting in the range of 36-38F (2-3C). In terms of ripeness, recent studies have found that both underripeness and overripeness can have an unexpectedly large impact on the phytonutrient content of strawberries, especially their antioxidant polyphenols. Fortunately, optimal strawberry ripeness can be judged by color. You'll want to consume your strawberries when their amazing pinkish-red color is most vibrant and rich in luster.

    Improved blood sugar regulation has been a long-standing area of interest in research on strawberries and health. However, scientists have recently discovered a fascinating relationship between intake of strawberries, table sugar, and blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) can result in an unwanted blood sugar spike. But you might not expect this blood sugar spike to be reduced by simultaneous consumption of strawberries! Yet that's exactly what researchers have discovered. With the equivalent of approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (approximately 150 grams), blood sugar elevations from simple sugar intake can be reduced. These health science researchers have further speculated that polyphenols in strawberries played a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response. This finding is great news for healthy persons wanting to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and also for persons with type 2 diabetes who enjoy fresh strawberries and want to enjoy them on a regular basis.

    Given their amazing combination of phytonutrients—including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids—it's not surprising to find increasing research interest in the anti-inflammatory properties of strawberries. But it's still exciting to see this remarkable fruit lowering levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) when consumed several days per week in everyday amounts of approximately one cup. Recent research has shown that several blood markers for chronic, unwanted inflammation can be improved by regular intake of strawberries. Interestingly, in one large-scale study, consumption of strawberries did not show anti-inflammatory benefits until strawberries were consumed at least 3 times per week. This research is one of the reasons we recommend inclusion of berries at least 3-4 times per week in your overall fruit intake.

    WHFoods Recommendations

    In our Healthiest Way of Eating Plan, we encourage the consumption of 5-10 servings of fruits-plus-vegetables (combined) each day. We believe that the balance between fruits and vegetables can vary from day to day, depending upon personal health factors, personal taste preferences, and optimal combining of foods in recipes as well as meals. We recognize that our recommendation calls for a more generous amount of fruits and vegetables than the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The CDC recommends between 1.5-2.5 cups of fruit and 2.5-4.0 cups of vegetables per day, as well as a target goal of at least 5 fruit-plus-vegetable servings (combined) per day.

    With respect to berries, the CDC approach provides the example of strawberries and explains that 8 large strawberries count as 1 cup. If all fruit for the day were to be obtained from strawberries, the CDC recommendation would translate into 12-20 strawberries for the day as a way of meeting a requirement for 1.5-2.5 cups of fruit.

    We recommend that you set your fruit goals higher than these CDC amounts. Based on the scientific research, we believe it's going to take closer to 3 fruit servings per day to provide you with optimum health benefits. With respect to berries in particular, we recommend that you include berries at least 3-4 times per week within your fruit servings.

    In several of our sample meal plans, we include berries on a daily basis! It would definitely not be a mistake for you to include a serving of berries in your daily meal plan! At the same time, we recognize that the fruit group contains many outstanding fruit options, and personal preferences (as well as local and seasonal availability) can vary greatly. Also, remember that large strawberries--at about 18 grams per berry and 8 berries per cup--stand at one end of the berry range in terms of size and recommended amount. Most berries are considerably smaller in size and weight, and a one-cup serving allows you to eat a lot more berries! With blueberries, for example, the average weight per berry is closer to 1-2 grams, and a cup's worth of blueberries means about 100-150 berries. For cranberries and raspberries, the amount would be similar.

    The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal. Not only do they taste great they are among the fruits and vegetables ranked highest in health-promoting antioxidants. Antioxidants help combat the damaging effects of free radical activity to cellular structures and DNA. Like the other World's Healthiest Fruits, we recommend enjoying strawberries raw (not in baked/cooked desserts) because they provide you with the best flavor and the greatest benefits from their vast array of nutrients and digestion-aiding enzymes. Peoples around the world have long been eating fruit for dessert, not only as a delicious ending to a meal but as a great digestive aid as well. For more on the Healthiest Way of Preparing Strawberries, see below.

    Strawberries, fresh
    1.00 cup
    (144.00 grams)
    Calories: 46
    GI: low

    NutrientDRI/DV

      vitamin C113%

      manganese28%

      fiber12%

      iodine9%

      folate9%

      copper8%

      potassium6%

      magnesium5%

      phosphorus5%

      biotin5%

      omega-3 fats4%

      vitamin B64%

    Health Benefits

    Given their unique combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, it's not surprising to see strong research support for strawberry health benefits in three major areas: (1) cardiovascular support and prevention of cardiovascular diseases (2) improved regulation of blood sugar, with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and (3) prevention of certain cancer types including breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer. In this section, we'll review the outstanding research-based benefits of strawberries in each area.

    Cardiovascular Benefits

    No area of strawberry health benefits is better documented than benefits for the cardiovascular system. It's also hard to imagine any other research result, since our heart and blood vessels need everyday protection from oxidative and inflammatory damage, and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient content of strawberries is simply outstanding. Among all fruits profiled as the World's Healthiest Foods, strawberries come out as the best fruit source of a pivotal antioxidant vitamin: vitamin C in several nationwide studies conducted in different countries. In one study that surveyed 66 different fruits consumed by adults in Iran, strawberries not only emerged as the best fruit source of vitamin C, but a source that provided more than twice as much vitamin C (47 milligrams versus 18 milligrams in 3.5 ounces) than the average for fruits as a group. After raspberries and grapes, strawberries also rank among the best fruit sources of manganese among the World's Healthiest Foods. Because of its key role as a cofactor for antioxidant enzyme activity by the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), manganese is considered to be a key antioxidant mineral. Yet, strawberries "claim to fame" in the antioxidant department is really reserved for their phytonutrient content.

    Many of the phytonutrients present in strawberries function not only as antioxidants but also as anti-inflammatory nutrients. The chart below shows several of the more important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients present in fresh, ripe strawberries:

    Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Phytonutrients in Strawberries

    Anthocyanins
  • cyanidins
  • pelargonidins

    Flavonols
  • procyanidins
  • catechins
  • gallocatechins
  • epicatechins
  • kaempferol
  • quercetin

    Hydroxy-benzoic acids
  • ellagic acid
  • gallic acid
  • vanillic acid*
  • salicylic acid

    Hydroxy-cinnamic acids
  • cinnamic acid
  • coumaric acid
  • caffeic acid
  • ferulic acid

    Tannins
  • ellagitannins
  • gallotannins

    Stilbenes
  • resveratrol

    Blood Sugar Benefits

    One of the more recent areas of health benefit to be documented in strawberry research is the area of blood sugar benefits. Several recent studies have found regular intake of strawberries to be associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. In some of these studies, frequency of strawberry intake definitely seems to matter since an intake frequency of once per week or less is not associated with blood sugar benefits in some studies. In these studies, significant benefits do not emerge until frequency of intake reaches at least 2-3 strawberry servings per week.

    Of special interest for blood sugar regulation is the relationship recently documented by researchers between intake of strawberries, intake of table sugar, and resulting blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) was able to produce an unwanted blood sugar spike in study participants during this study. But as you might not expect, this blood sugar spike was actually reduced by simultaneous consumption of strawberries. Approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (approximately 150 grams) was able to decrease blood sugar elevations when table sugar was consumed along with strawberries. The investigators speculated that polyphenols in strawberries played a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response. One particular type of polyphenol in strawberries—ellagitannins—might have been especially important for this blood sugar-relating benefit. Ellaginannins are polyphenols that are known to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called alpha-amylase. Since this enzyme is responsible for breaking amylose starches into simple sugars, fewer simple sugars might be released into the blood stream when activity of this enzyme is reduced.

    Anti-Cancer Benefits

    Since chronic, excessive inflammation and chronic, excessive oxidative stress (lack of antioxidant nutrients and unsupported oxygen metabolism) are often primary factors in the development of cancer, strawberries would definitely be expected to have cancer risk-lowering properties given their outstanding antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient content. Anti-cancer benefits from strawberries are best documented in the case of breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer. Most of the tumor-inhibiting studies on animals have focused on the phytonutrient content of strawberries. Among the strawberry phytonutrients, ellagic acid and ellagitannins in strawberry have emerged as anti-cancer substances of special interest. While the anti-cancer (chemopreventive) properties of these phytonutrients have yet to be fully understood, their ability to lower risk for some forms of cancer may be related to their ability to boost the activity of antioxidant enzymes like catalase or superoxide dismustase, their ability to lessen the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), or their ability to lessen expression of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Whatever the mechanism or combination of mechanisms, strawberries are likely to bring anti-cancer health benefits to your diet.

    Other Health Benefits

    A growing area of health research on strawberries is the area of aging and aging-related events. Several preliminary studies on intake of strawberries on aged animals has shown enhanced cognitive function (in the form of better object recognition) following ingestion of a diet with 2% of the calories provided by strawberry extracts. Enhanced motor function (in the form of better balance and coordination of movements) has also been shown in these strawberry extract studies. Some of the strawberry impact in these aging studies has been attributed to the ability of strawberry phytonutrients to lower the presence of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules like nuclear factor kappa-B.

    Improvement of inflammatory bowel problems—including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease—has also been demonstrated in preliminary studies on animals with daily strawberry extract or strawberry powder intake. Interestingly, even though strawberries contain relatively small amounts of salicylic acid (an anti-inflammatory compound very similar to the acetylsalicylic acid of aspirin), some researchers have suggested that this naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory substance in strawberries might be partly responsible for decreased inflammation in the digestive tract of individuals diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

    Inflammation-related arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), and inflammation-related diseases of the eye (including macular degeneration) are two additional areas in which strawberries may turn out to provide important health benefits. Even though health research in these areas is in a preliminary stage, the unique combination of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in strawberries is likely to explain some of the key potential benefits in these areas.

    Description

    Fragrantly sweet strawberries are the most popular type of berry fruit in the world. Although they have become increasingly available year-round, they are at the peak of their season from April through July when they are the most delicious and most abundant.

    While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has small seeds piercing its surface, and a small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. Most commercially grown strawberries come from the genus-species Fragaria ananassa. Cultivation of this particular genus-species has been taking place for nearly 300 years. Much older still, however, are wild strawberries that typically below to the genus-species Fragaria vesca. Wild strawberries are known to have existed for more than 2,000 years. While typically smaller in size than cultivated strawberries, wild strawberries often feature a more intense flavor. In the U.S., commercial strawberry production is largely limited to the coastal and southern inland regions of California and to the East Coast, where Florida production becomes especially important during the winter months. Fragaria virginiana is a popular genus-species of strawberry grown in the U.S. along side of the genus-species Fragaria ananassa.

    History

    Strawberries have grown wild for millennia in temperature regions throughout the world. While cultivation of strawberries doesn't date back this far, it still dates back hundreds and hundreds of years.

    It was not until the 18th century, however, when cultivation of strawberries began to be pursued in earnest. In 1714, a French engineer sent to Chile and Peru to monitor Spanish activities in these countries "discovered" a strawberry native to this region that was much larger than those grown in Europe. He brought many samples back to France, which were subsequently planted. These plants did not originally flourish well until a natural crossbreeding occurred between this species and a neighboring North American strawberry variety that was planted nearby in the field. The result was a hybrid strawberry that was large, juicy and sweet, and one that quickly grew in popularity in Europe.

    The strawberry, like many other perishable fruits at this time, remained a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy until the mid-19th century. Once railways were built and more rapid means of transportation established, strawberries were able to be shipped longer distances and were able to be enjoyed by more people. Today, using a commonplace, layperson's definition of the word "berry," the strawberry has become the most popular berry fruit in the world. (In technical scientific terms, this distinction would go to bananas, since their seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary, and that characteristic is used to classify berries versus non-berries. In fact, when considered from a technical scientific standpoint, strawberries are not berries at all, but rather "accessory fruits" in which the delicious substance that we eat is not directly produced from the ovary. But for most of us, despite these technical scientific distinctions, strawberries count as some of the best berries ever!)

    How to Select and Store

    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. Full ripe berries will not only have the peak flavor and texture, but will have more nutrients. "Full ripe" in this case means optimally ripe, not overripe. Both underripe and overripe strawberries have been show to have lower vitamin C content and decreased phytonutrient content in comparison to optimally ripe strawberries.

    We believe that the surprisingly fragile and perishable nature of strawberries is especially important!

    Food scientists have recently taken a close look at storage time, storage temperature, storage humidity, and degree of strawberry ripeness and found significant differences among their impact upon nutrient retention. On average, studies show 2 days as the maximal time for strawberry storage without major loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. It's not that strawberries become dangerous to eat or invaluable after 2 days. It's just that more storage time brings along with it substantially more nutrient loss. In terms of humidity, 90-95% has been shown to be optimal. Most refrigerators will average a much lower humidity (between 80-90%). Because air circulation inside the fridge can lower humidity, you may want to give your strawberries more storage humidity by putting them in your refrigerator's cold storage bins (if available). Those cold storage bins will help boost humidity by reducing air circulation. If your refrigerator does not have storage bins, you can use a sealed container for refrigerator storage of your strawberries. Optimal temperature for strawberry storage over a 2-day period has been found to be relatively cold—36F (2C). All public health organizations recommend refrigerator temperatures of 40F (4.4C) as the maximum safe level for food storage.

    However, if you are storing sizable amounts of fruits and vegetables—including strawberries—in your refrigerator, you may want to consider setting your refrigerator to a lower-than-maximum temperature setting in the range of 36°-38°F (2°-3°C).

    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. Strawberries are usually available year round, although in greatest abundance from the spring through the mid-summer.

    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.

    Commercial food processing can dramatically lower the nutrient content of strawberries, especially their phytonutrient content. For example, we've seen several studies showing very little retention of certain anthocyanin phytonutrients in baby foods made from strawberries or other brightly-colored berries. The dramatic impact of some processing methods may be to do heat, pH (changes in acidity during processing), oxygen exposure, light exposure, the physical and mechanical impact of processing, or a combination of these factors. In any case, a much safer bet in terms of strawberries and nourishment is to stick with fresh berries or carefully frozen berries, and in the case of baby food or the feeding of young children, to purée the berries in a blender so that overall processing is kept to a minimum.

    Tips for Preparing and Cooking

    Since they are very perishable, strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe. Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water and patted them dry. This will prevent them from absorbing excess water, which can degrade strawberries' texture and flavor. To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.

    Despite their perishable nature, strawberries do appear to hold up well for a day or two in fruit salad if properly stored and chilled. This is good news for those of us who are pressed for time but love fresh fruit salad. And who doesn't since it's a perfect addition to any meal and makes a great snack or dessert?

    Healthiest Way of Preparing Strawberries

    Strawberries retain their maximum amount of nutrients and their maximum taste when they are enjoyed fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe. That is because their nutrients—including vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes—are unable to withstand the temperature (350°F/175°C) used in baking.

    How to Enjoy

  • 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.

    WHFoods Recipes That Feature Strawberries

  • Strawberry Smoothie
  • 10 Minute Fresh Berry Dessert with Yogurt & Chocolate
  • 10-minute Kiwi Mandala
  • 10-Minute Strawberries with Chocolate Creme
  • Grapefruit Sunrise
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