For most of us, strawberries herald the start of summer and, although imported versions are available all year round, the very best strawberries are home grown.
Twenty-five years ago, the British strawberry season was just six weeks long – now it lasts almost six months, after being expanded through different techniques and with the creation of new varieties.
Cultivated throughout Europe from the 14th century, it was another 300 years before our own strawberries were crossed with American varieties to give us the large, juicy strawberries we know today.
Top strawberry buying tips
- Choose firm, brightly coloured strawberries without blemishes. Strawberries don’t ripen after they have been picked so don’t buy under-ripe green or white ones hoping they’ll turn red – they won’t.
- The leaves should be green and fresh looking.
- Smell them, their delicate perfume diminishes with age.
- Strawberries only last a few days and the vitamin C content reduces with age so eat them fresh, preferably within two to three days of purchase.
- Store in the salad drawer of the fridge but before eating, allow them to come up to room temperature to gain the maximum flavour from them.
- Don't wash them before putting them in the fridge as this will shorten their life.
- Due to their high water content, strawberries do not freeze very well as their texture changes, but frozen strawberries are great in a smoothie.
Why strawberries are good for you…
- They are fat-free and low in calories – just 32 calories per 100g.
- The red pigment is packed with a range of antioxidants.
- Rich in vitamin C – just seven large strawberries will give you the recommended daily amount of vitamin C for an adult.
- They contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre in good amounts.
8 ways to enjoy strawberries
- Slice onto breakfast cereals, porridge or muesli.
- Blend with low-fat yogurt and freeze for a cooling, refreshing dessert.
- Chop and mix a few in with a good-quality jam and spread onto your bread or toast.
- Try sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper.
- Slice into green salad.
- Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.
- Make a milkshake by blending with skimmed milk, a little yogurt with or without artificial sweetener.
- Blend with a little sweetener and top with fizzy water for a long, cooling summer drink.
Recipes for you to try:
Skewered fruit with dipping sauces