Kentucky’s strawberry crop delivers satisfying flavor

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What delicious Kentucky Proud fruit is the most popular crowd favorite?  From late April to July, fresh strawberries certainly could be the most delightful winner!  Kentucky strawberries always deliver satisfying flavor—whether it’s found in scrumptious strawberry pie, luscious strawberry preserves, or a yummy fresh berry snack! Not only do they have mouth watering appeal, but strawberries provide great healthy benefits. Weight watchers can enjoy the fact that a 1/2 cup serving of sliced berries has only 25 calories. Of all berries, strawberries are highest in vitamin C, with a 1/2 cup serving providing 80% of recommended daily values.

 When selecting berries at your Farmer’s Market or grocery, stay away from containers of berries with juice stains which may be a sign that the berries are crushed and possibly moldy; soft, watery fruit that means the berries are overripe; dehydrated, wrinkled fruit that means the berries have been stored too long.  Strawberries should be a bright shade of red and the caps on the berries should be green and fresh looking. Berries that are green or yellow are unripe and will taste sour.

In general, berries should be dry, firm, well shaped, and eaten within a week after purchase. If you can’t eat them that soon, remember that berries freeze well! It’s best to buy berries that are “in-season” as they’ll cost less and are more ripe and flavorful than “out-of-season” berries.

 After purchasing berries, check the fruit and toss out any moldy or deformed berries. Eat overripe berries within 24 hours. Return the other berries back to the original container or they should be arranged unwashed in a shallow pan lined with paper towels, and washed just prior to use. The berries may be topped with a paper towel to absorb any additional moisture. Put plastic wrap over the entire container. This will ensure the fruit retains its freshness.

 Strawberries are a great snack, especially in unusual combinations with other popular Kentucky fruits and vegetables!

Strawberry  Salsa

This unique salsa recipe combines the sweet tart tastes of ripe strawberries with salad tomatoes, such as cherry or grape varieties, and adds color and extra kick with fresh green onions and cilantro. Don’t be afraid to try it—with yummy chips or pita crackers or even as a topper for fresh salad greens, you’ll get a cool, clean and refreshing taste that’s sure to become a family favorite!

Strawberry  Salsa Recipe

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups, coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
8 green onions, chopped
2 cups chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Whisk olive oil, vinegar and salt in large bowl.  Add strawberries, green onions, tomatoes and cilantro.  Toss to coat.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.