What’s in Season: Strawberries by Emily Weeks, RDN, LD

One of the most popular berries in the world, strawberries are known for their heart shape and red color. They’re the only fruit to have their seeds on the outside, and on average, have over 200 seeds per berry. Strawberries are usually available year-round, but are most flavorful when they’re in season in February through May. While delicious simply by themselves, strawberries can be used in a wide variety of dishes both sweet and savory.

What’s in Season: Strawberries
Nutritional Benefits of Strawberries
One handful of strawberries has just 30 calories and two grams of gut-healthy fiber. They’re a good source of potassium, manganese, and vitamin C, which is great for the immune system and tissue repair in the body. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, which are colorful pigments with beneficial effects such as heart health and reducing inflammation in the body. Strawberries are also helpful to those with diabetes. They  can slow the absorption of glucose when eaten with a high fiber meal. Strawberries also contain polyphenols, antioxidant plant compounds that are known to regulate blood pressure and blood glucose (blood sugar).
How to Buy and Store Strawberries
When shopping for fresh strawberries, look for berries that are bright red and firm to the touch. Avoid berries with soft spots, bruises, or mold. Frozen berries will last for a year in the freezer. If you decide to freeze fresh berries, put them in a sealable bag and press all the air out to avoid freezer frost. Dried strawberries will last about six months stored in a tightly sealed container in the pantry. To make dried strawberries at home, simply slice fresh strawberries into thin pieces and bake at 200 degrees F for about two hours, flipping halfway. Home dried strawberries will last for about two months.
How to Grow Strawberries at Home
Home gardeners can plant strawberry plants in March or April. Be sure to plant them in full sun for maximum berry production. Growing strawberries at home is a fun and easy way to have access to fresh fruit. Children can have fun helping to take care of strawberry plants by watering when the soil gets dry.
Strawberry Recipe Ideas
Strawberries are delicious fresh and can also be frozen or dried. Try out some of these ideas to incorporate more strawberries into your diet while they’re in season:
Fresh strawberries taste delicious in fruit salads; vegetable salads; salty, vinegar-based dressings; or paired with feta or goat cheese . 
Strawberries can be made into preserves, jams, and dried into cereal and breakfast bars. They’re often used as flavoring in milks, ice creams, and smoothies.
Add strawberries to your favorite salsa recipe. Fresh chopped tomatoes, shallot, jalapenos, lime juice, and cilantro all taste delicious with a handful of diced strawberries mixed in. 
The next time you need an appetizer, try making strawberry bruschetta. Make your own reduced balsamic vinegar (or buy pre-made reduction from the store) and combine with fresh strawberries. Toss with fresh basil and spoon on top of toasted French bread slices. 
Meal prep for the week by making a large batch of chicken salad (Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad) — shredded cooked chicken, mayonnaise, celery, and diced strawberries.   Add poppy seeds for a delicious crunch.

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