I absolutely love springtime when plants in the garden are beginning to grow. I especially love when it’s time for strawberries. Nothing beats the aroma and taste of freshly picked strawberries. We’ve had a few good weeks of the strawberry season, and I am hoping for several more in May to be able to make jam and freeze berries.
This year, I decided to try growing strawberries in a raised bed garden. They are absolutely beautiful and tasty, but I have just enough to eat a few each day. For enough strawberries to make jam and to freeze for Ally’s fruit smoothies, I visited Powers Strawberries and Farm Market as it is only a few miles from home. There are at least six strawberry growers in Robeson County. Depending on where you live, you may find a strawberry grower near you. Go to our website, robeson.ces.ncsu.edu, and click on the strawberry article, then click on the strawberry for a complete list of our local strawberry growers. Some of them also have a Facebook page.
Strawberries are delicious plain, but there are many recipes available. Among these are strawberry smoothies, spinach and strawberry salad, strawberry ice cream, freezer jam, and traditional jam. Our family favorite is what I call strawberry pie. It is baked with a top and bottom crust, just like my mama made when I was a little girl. My daughters, Catie and Ally, often request strawberry pie for special dinners.
I don’t have a recipe for it, but I did find one recently that is very similar. Call or send an E-mail request, and I will send you the recipe. Another good place for strawberry recipes is the North Carolina Strawberry Growers website: ncstrawberry.com/consumers/recipes.
Besides tasting delicious, strawberries are also very good for you. They are low in calories — 50 per cup — and high in vitamins A and C and folic acid. They are also a good source of fiber. Half of our daily food intake should be fruits and vegetables. Research shows that consuming more fruits and vegetables decreases your risk of some chronic diseases.
Strawberries should be used as soon after harvesting or purchasing as possible. Store them loosely covered in a shallow container in the refrigerator. Do not remove the caps or wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Now, get out there and enjoy strawberry picking time with family and friends. Blueberries and blackberries are next.
Janice Fields, Family and Consumer Sciences agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Robeson County, can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at Janice_Fields@ncsu.edu.