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Fresh Strawberries

   By: Sherri Allen

Spring has arrived, bringing with it the sweet start of strawberry season. Strawberries, the first fruit to ripen in spring, are enjoyed all over the world, with native forms growing on every continent except Africa and Australia. Families in 94% of American households eat strawberries, which were selected as the favorite fruit by more than half of all 7 to 9 year olds.

In addition to being delicious, strawberries are very nutritious. Ancient Romans prized strawberries for their medicinal value, believing the berries alleviated symptoms of melancholy, fainting, inflammation, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, attacks of gout and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen. In fact, strawberries are very high in vitamin C, containing more vitamin C than a medium orange. Vitamin C helps your body heal, resist infections and maintain healthy bones, gums and teeth. Strawberries are also high in antioxidants and fiber, as well as a source of iron, calcium, folate and vitamin A.

Whether you buy your strawberries from a local farmer's market or the nearest chain grocery store, take time to select the sweetest, ripest berries. Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps. Make sure there are no signs of mold growth in the package; if one berry has mold, then you can be sure mold spores have spread throughout the entire package. One-and-a-half pounds of strawberries equals one quart, which will give you about four cups of sliced strawberries.

As soon as you get home with your strawberries, put them in a shallow container, cover them loosely with plastic wrap and store them in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most. Do not wash the berries until you are ready to use them. To wash your strawberries, put them in a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Then, just remove the green caps with a paring knife or the tip of a vegetable peeler. Now, you're ready to eat your strawberries or use them in your favorite recipe.

FABULOUS STRAWBERRY MUFFINS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until all ingredient are well blended.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour liquid mixture in and add the strawberries. Using a large spoon, gently fold ingredients just until moist. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE

1 9-inch pastry shell, baked
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1 cup whipped topping

Arrange 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled side down, in cooled baked pastry shell. Make a sauce with the remaining 2 cups of strawberries: chop berries and heat them in a saucepan with sugar, water, cornstarch and salt. Remove from heat when thickened and stir in butter. Wait for the sauce to cool and pour it over the strawberries in pastry shell. Chill for several hours.

When you're ready to serve, pipe, spoon or spread the whipped topping on top of the pie.

Makes 1 pie

TROPICAL STRAWBERRY PIE

8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup grated coconut
8 oz. carton whipped topping, thawed
1 9-inch pastry shell, baked

With an electric mixer, cream together softened cream cheese and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes on high speed.  Stir the crushed pineapple, and coconut into the cream cheese mixture and mix well. Carefully fold in half of the whipped topping until well-blended.  Reserve remaining whipped topping for garnish.  Spread the filling in baked pastry crust and chill for several hours. 

When you're ready to serve, pipe, spoon or spread the whipped topping on top of the pie.

Makes 1 pie

Of course, these three recipes aren't the only way to enjoy fresh strawberries. They are delicious in smoothies, cakes, crisps, sauces, salads and so much more, including just washed and hulled. So go ahead, celebrate the arrival of spring and give your immune system a big boost. Savor the sweet taste of nutritious strawberries.


About the Author

Sherri Allen is the editor of an award-winning website devoted to topics such as family, food, garden, house&home and money. For free articles, information, tips, recipes, reviews and coloring pages, visit http://www.SherriAllen.com/


Article Source: http://www.friendsofvista.org/articles/article9290.html





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