Summer slept through her alarm clock this year and awoke late. She threw all of her flowery garments around her and ran out the door, in amazingly lush and beautiful deshabille. Roses are blooming everywhere. Wild honeysuckle climbs through the trees, and it’s strawberry time here in the valley.
Local strawberry growers are experiencing a bumper crop. I’m so glad! Field ripened strawberries are quite unlike the imported ones we see earlier in the year. Little can improve upon the taste of a perfectly ripe, red strawberry, freshly picked and still a bit warm from the sun.
How do you like to prepare strawberries? Shortcake is always good, and jam. A smoothie never goes far astray. Homemade strawberry ice cream is heavenly.
However you prepare them, when eating strawberries you are doing something good for your body. Strawberries are very rich in vitamin C. A one cup serving will provide you 149% of your daily requirement. They are also higher in fiber, folate and potassium than other fruits like bananas, apples and even oranges.
A recent study by Dr. Gene Spiller, Nutrition and Health Research Center, has shown that eating one serving (about 8-10 strawberries) a day can significantly decrease blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also found to reduce risk of cancer, enhance memory function and combat rheumatoid arthritis. Good reasons to enjoy that bowl of strawberries and cream.
I avoid imported strawberries even though buying them extends the length of time they are available. In order for them to survive the long journey to our grocer’s shelves, imported strawberries are picked when they are still white and unripe. The natural sugars in berries are a product of photosynthesis so, although they continue to turn red after they are picked, berries that are picked unripe will never be as sweet as berries that have been allowed to ripen in the field.
We’ll be going to a U-Pick farm next week, baskets in hand. I’m looking forward to jars of beautiful red jam and I’ll be putting some berries in the freezer too. When we eat them next winter, those sweet strawberries will be a wonderful reminder of the colours and scents of summertime.
If you would like to read more about our local strawberry crop, there’s an article in today’s Cowichan Valley Citizen. You can find it online at http://www2.canada.com/cowichanvalleycitizen/news/story.html?id=e2ecf30b-3078-45ca-b2a2-da29ede067b3.
 http://www.strawberry-recipes.com/strawberry_nutrition.htmlPhoto: motherearthnews.com