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The intoxicating fragrance and deep red colour of strawberries can brighten any recipe! It is not surprising that it is one of the most popular berry fruits in the world. Strawberries are best had when they are in season – from November until February.
While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavour, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh, the yellow seeds visible on the surface, and the bright green leafy cap and stem. Apart from the strawberries cultivated in farms, there are yummy wild ones too – these are much smaller in size but have a more intense flavour.
Wash the strawberries well. Slice from the top to remove the stem and then slice vertically into two. Now, chop using a sharp knife. If the recipe calls for coarsely-chopped strawberries, keep the pieces larger.
Wash the strawberries well. Slice from the top to remove the stem and then slice vertically into two. Now, chop using a sharp knife. Mash the chopped strawberries with a fork.
Wash the strawberries well. Slice from the top to remove the stem. Now use a sharp knife to slice them vertically, across the cutting board. You can slice them thinly or thickly depending on the recipe requirement. They make a lovely garnish!
Strawberry puree is very easy to make and has multiple uses. Wash the strawberries and slice from the top to remove the stem. Cut them into half and force through a blender until smooth. Depending on the sweetness of the berries, add sugar if required. Choose juicy and soft strawberries to make puree.
The puree can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days. It can also be frozen and stored for two weeks. Strawberry puree is also readily available in supermarkets. Check the manufacturing and expiry date before buying to ensure its freshness.
Strawberry puree can be used to make soufflés and cream pudding. It also makes a delicious topping for ice-creams. A strawberry milkshake is a good start to the day! The puree can also be blended with other fruits like banana or apple. You can serve strawberry puree as an accompaniment to hot biscuits, waffles or pancakes.
How to Select
• Strawberries spoil quickly and cannot be stored for long. They may be bought a few days prior to use, but not earlier.
• Choose berries that are firm, plump and free of mould.
• They should have a shiny, deep red colour with the green cap-like stem still attached to it.
• Once picked, strawberries stop ripening. So, avoid buying those that are dull in colour or have green or yellow patches since these are likely to be sour and of inferior quality.
• Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavourful than those that are excessively large.
• If you are buying strawberries pre-packaged 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, indicating possible spoilage.
• 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 the strawberries' texture and flavour. To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.
• Strawberries make a bright and flavourful addition to fruit salads.
• They can brighten up any snack or dessert. Add sliced strawberries to a mixed green salad or use it to garnish a cake.
• Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a perfect dessert.
• Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
• Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce that goes well with poached pears.
• Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
• Strawberries dipped in chocolate sauce make an irresistible dessert.
• Mashed or pureed strawberries can be used to make baby foods.
• Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries.
• Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
• For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow's milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.
How to Store
• You should be careful in the handling and storage of strawberries as they tend to get damaged.
• Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.
• Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are moulded or damaged so that they will not contaminate others. Place the remaining strawberries, without washing or removing the stem, in their original container or spread them out on a plate covered with a paper towel, then cover with plastic wrap. Strawberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days.
• To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact – this depends upon how you use to plan the strawberries later. 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 colour. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole.
Health Benefits of Strawberry
• Strawberries are chock-full of a phytonutrients, which are good antioxidants and reduce body inflammation.
• The phenols in strawberries protect your heart and prevent cancer.
• It also contains an array of other beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid.
• Strawberries are a rich source of potassium and magnesium, which helps in lowering blood pressure.
• The fruit also helps maintain your eyesight, as the antioxidants in strawberries prevent dry eyes and degeneration of the optic nerves. The potassium in strawberries reduces the pressure on the eye.
• It also protects you from Rheumatoid Arthritis.
• Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts immunity to cure cold and coughs.
• They are also a very good source of dietary fibre and iodine.
• Plus, strawberries are a good source of folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, copper and vitamin K.
Strawberry has a Glycemic Index (GI) of 41, which is low. GI ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by how quickly they digest and raise your blood sugar or glucose levels. Foods ranking from 0 to 50 are low GI, 51 to 69 are medium and 70 to 100 are high. Foods that are high in GI are not suitable for weight-loss and diabetic diets. Foods like strawberry and raspberry have a low GI. They get absorbed slowly and do not spike your glucose level. This makes them good for weight-watchers.
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