Lana Camiel
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Strawberry benefits – And my love hate relationship with this berry

This is my third year in a row going strawberry picking.

Whether you grow your own strawberries or able to purchase them in season, strawberries are some of the the most exciting berries for me with many benefits. 

Childhood memories

As a child in eastern Europe strawberries were an amazing treat. They were only available for a week or two in June.  I was always looking forward to the aroma and the taste of fresh strawberries covered with sour cream and sugar or any of my mom’s other creations.

One day I heard a joke from a friend who just came back from his travels – When are strawberries available in America? At 7 a.m., when the supermarket opens.

We all laughed and were amazed by the miracle of American farming, where farmers fooled the nature and created ‘strawberry on demand’.

Darker sides of strawberries

After immigration, however, I learned that everything has a price. When I tasted strawberries here, the first thing that struck me is the lack of familiar scent. The berries were always too hard, tasteless and almost plastic.  

I read once that ‘conventional strawberries are created to travel over long distances, but not really to taste good.’ I quickly fell out of love with them.

When I began exploring nutrition, food, and pesticides, I learned a very scary statistic – strawberries are #1 most sprayed crop. and they are contaminated even if washed.

Strawberry breeding is a complex subject that I know little about.  Incorporation of cold water fish genes into strawberries to make them more cold resistant, however, doesn’t sit very well with me.  

In all honesty, even organically grown strawberries have some dark sides – cost and other.

Rediscovering an old friend

I have previously written about strawberry being rich in antioxidants.  These compounds are known for many medicinal benefits including enhancement of cognition and immune function (protecting against cold/flu and even cancer).

You might’ve heard about other health effects such as improved heart health, benefits against aging (protection against skin damage), abundance of folate and manganese, and much more.

Since I stopped buying conventional strawberries many years ago, rediscovering them at my farmer’s market was a huge gift.  Finally, strawberries smell like real berries.

My journey guided me further to explore local farms and actually go strawberry picking for the past several years.

Yesterday I went strawberry picking with a friend of mine.  Strawberries aren’t the easiest to harvest.  They grow close to the ground, and require patience and energy. 

Strawberry picking, however, is always a lot of fun, especially with your kids. I love sneaking a couple of berries in my mouth.

But what do you do with all your harvest?

There are many recipes out there.  Most of the times I just put a little sour cream and sugar on the top and transport myself to my childhood days.

When I go strawberry picking and have tons of berries in my kitchen, and squirrel mentality of prepping for the winter kicks in.

My go to recipe in this case is a strawberry ginger jam or its variation.  

This year I’ve decided to see what other treats I can create out of my harvest.  Here’s six that I have either played with or planning to (click on each link to get the full recipe).

  1. Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad – Two Peas and Their Pod
  2. Red, White and Blueberry Crisp – Party in my Plants
  3. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes – Dr. Axe
  4. Strawberry Milk – Smitten Kitchen
  5. Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Pudding – Dr. Axe
  6. Strawberry Ice Cream – Dr. Axe

If you aren’t quite ready to use your strawberries right away, freeze some for smoothies, preserves, sauces, oatmeal, pancakes, pies.  

Remember to freeze berries on a cookie sheet making sure they don’t stick to each other. Once they are frozen, you can transfer to a bag for storage.

Questions: What are your favorite strawberry recipes? Where do you get your strawberries? 

About the Author Lana Camiel

I’m a college professor, drug information pharmacist and herbalist. I teach young professionals and students how to be less stressed and more focused with the right herbs and food.

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