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The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal; it is no wonder they are the most popular berry fruit in the world. Although strawberries have become increasingly available year-round, they are at the peak of their season from April through July when they are the most delicious and most abundant.
While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.
Strawberries can be chopped using a sharp knife. Slice it from the top to remove the stem and then cut it into half from the centre. Cut the half portion into another half and remove the seeds from centre. Chop ingredients by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger
Cut the stem from the top and bottom. Then, chop it into half. Slice using a sharp knife by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice them thinly or thickly as the recipe requirement, can used as a garnish.
How to Select
Strawberry Puree is very simple to make and has multiple uses. Just wash, halve and force through a blender until smooth. Add sugar if desired, as they are already sweet in taste.
Choose the juicy and soft strawberry to make puree. It is also available in food Malls and Grocery market. Prior to purchasing check the manufacturing as well as the expiry date, to guarantee the freshness.
It can be used as an ice cream topping or with cream pudding. A strawberry milkshake is a good start for the day. It can also be blendes with other fruits like, of banana or apple. It can be served as an accompaniment to hot biscuits, waffles or pancakes.
Puree, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 days. Strawberry puree can also be frozen and stays more than 2 weeks and used later as a basis for soufflés.
As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large. If you are buying strawberries prepackaged 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, indication of possible spoilage. Strawberries are usually available year round, although in greatest abundance from the spring through the mid-summer.
Like all berries, strawberries are very perishable, so great care should be taken in their handling and storage. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are molded or damaged so that they will not contaminate others. Replace unwashed and unhulled berries 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. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil. Culinary Uses
" 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 strawberries' texture and flavor. To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.
" Despite their perishable nature, strawberries do appear to hold up well in fruit salad if properly stored and chilled.
" It's a perfect addition to any meal and makes a great snack or dessert
" Add sliced strawberries to mixed green salad or garnish on the 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 are very tempting and a great dessert.
" These are also great for baby foods, either mashed or pureed.
" 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
To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact; depending upon what you will do with them once they are thawed. 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 color. 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
" Strawberries not only look like a fruity heart-shaped valentine, they are filled with unusual phytonutrients that love to promote your health.
" Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrients world as a rich source of phenols.
" Strawberries' unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one.
" Strawberry Phytonutrients that Promote Optimal Health
" Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight.
" Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
" Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese.
" They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine.
" Plus, strawberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and vitamin K.
" Strawberries also contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid.