The hearty strawberry plant has grown wild in many parts of the world for over 2200 years. In Italy they date back as far as 264 BC, and in the US, the Native Americans liked to bake the berries into their cornbread. The early European settlers also came up with a similar dessert variation that we call today strawberry shortcake.
Strawberry shortcake is just one delicious reason that 94% of American households say they eat strawberries. Grown in almost every state in the nation, California leads the country in strawberry production. So much so that eight out of ten strawberries grown in the U.S. are grown in California. In the peak of strawberry season, many farms have “u-pick” specials. Picking your own strawberries is good healthy family fun, and the rewards are delicious!
Looking beyond their sweet juicy taste, strawberries are loaded with nutrients including powerful, disease- fighting antioxidants and vitamin C. Just eight medium strawberries count as one serving, and this serving contains more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries are also a good source of iron, folic acid, fiber, and potassium. All that, and they’re low in calories and fat-free too! So pile them high on your cereal, grab a handful for a snack, and enjoy them for what they are – healthy, nutritious and oh so tasty!
Age to introduce: over 12 months (cooked and pureed).
Family Fun Treat: Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries
In a survey, over 53% of seven to nine-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit. If more parents served them with chocolate fondue, we think the number of young strawberry lovers would rise dramatically. Fondue is fun, and nothing could be easier than chocolate fondue. It is a perfect sweet treat to top off your Valentine’s dinner. No need to worry that you don’t have a fondue pot or forks, chocolate fondue can be served in a bowl with regular forks.
- 12 ounces Chocalate (Toblerone is our favorite)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) Heavy Cream
- Whole strawberries (lots of them)
Clean strawberries and remove the hulls, Depending on the size of the berries, leave them whole or cut them in half. Ideally you want bite-size pieces of strawberries. Place the strawberries in a serving bowl and set aside. Chop the chocolate into pieces and place it in a saucepan, add the heavy cream. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the fondue into a fondue pot or serving bowl. Serve with berries. Stick a strawberry with a fork and give it a hearty dunk in the chocolate fondue.
Did you know? Anyone who loses a strawberry in the fondue pot must kiss the person sitting next to them.
Strawberries For The Family
At the market: Select strawberries that have a bright red color, a natural shine and fresh-looking green caps. Once picked, strawberries will not continue to ripen.
Storage: Always refrigerate strawberries in a dry container covered loosely with plastic wrap. They will keep for several days. Do not wash them until just before they are served, and do not remove their green caps until after they are washed.
Creative ideas to add strawberries in your meals:
- Strawberry lemonade: Put one package of frozen strawberries and one can of frozen lemonade concentrate in a blender. Process until smooth. Make lemonade according to the package directions. If you have an ice cream maker, pour the lemonade in it and process for 20 minutes to make slushies.
- Simple and elegant appetizer: Strawberries combine perfectly with balsamic vinegar. Simply whisk equal amounts of sugar and balsamic vinegar together, and pour this mixture over fresh whole or halved strawberries. Serve with toothpicks or as one of many dishes in an antipasto platter.
- Cheese and berry platter: Strawberries are simply wonderful with soft, flavorful cheeses such as brie, camembert, and goat cheese. For a terrific finish to dinner serve a plate of strawberries and cheese.
- Strawberries are a great addition to a mixed green or spinach salad. They especially compliment Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, and purple onions. A sweet balsamic vinaigrette is the perfect salad dressing. Try this one: Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup olive, oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 Tbsp sugar (salt and pepper to taste).
- Salsa for breakfast? Salsa is not just for chips. Try making this Breakfast salsa and serve it over pancakes, waffles, French toast, hot cereal, or mixed into yogurt: In a bowl, whisk 1/3 cup apricot jam, 3 tbsp. water, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Toss in 1 cup of diced fresh strawberries and 1 cup of diced mango.