NC Strawberries First Local Fruit of Growing Season

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Fresh, sweet NC strawberries are now an abundant and an economical treat.

North Carolina ranks third in the nation for production, with an annual crop valued at $29.4 million. The best quality strawberries have a distinctive sweet scent and intense flavor that makes them irresistible.

Nutritionally, strawberries are considered a “superfood.” One cup provides only 49 calories, with 149 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C, plus 29 percent of required manganese. This trace mineral supports skin health and blood sugar control. They rank amongst the highest fruits in antioxidants, helping protect the cardiovascular system. With a high phytonutrient content, they have the ability to reduce inflammation in the body.

So, go ahead and purchase large containers, and enjoy the abundance by using strawberries a variety of ways.

Here are a few favorites:

Strawberry Salsa

1 pint fresh strawberries, diced

4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 small onion, diced

1 small jalapeno pepper, minced

2 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a bowl, combine strawberries, tomatoes, onion, and pepper. Stir in lime juice, garlic, and oil. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve with cooked poultry or pork or as a dip with chips. Yield: 4 cups.

Source: NCDA&CS

Frozen Fruit Bars

2 cups fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Puree fruit in blender, adding a tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Add sugar and lemon juice and blend. Pour into small cups and insert sticks. Freeze until solid. Just before eating, remove cups by running warm water over them.

Source: N.C. Five A Day Program 

Green Strawberry Salad

4 cups fresh salad greens, torn or coarsely chopped

1 cup quartered strawberries

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

¼ cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup poppy seed dressing, or to taste

Toss ingredients together. Serves 4.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dip

Stir together 2 parts vanilla yogurt, 1 part peanut butter and 1 part chocolate hazelnut spread. Dip strawberries, graham cracker or vanilla wafers for a delicious snack.