Finally, it’s Strawberry Season!
My favorite berry is definitely the Strawberry. Can you tell?
All berries that grow here in Northern NY run a close race for the honor of “favorite.” They are all so tasty and change up flavors and textures as we make our way through the weeks of Summer and local food fare.
There is something very special about the first Strawberries at the Co-op, Martin’s Farmstand, or out in the wild patches we may be so fortunate to have. Their smell is intoxicating. The bite of the first Strawberry of the season is memorable as it is like time stops, just for a moment. Their bright color is so festive adding to the full sensual experience and pleasure.
If you are a food history folk, looking up the varieties of Strawberries, where they originated, and how they moved about the globe could be fascinating research. The Strawberry birthmark, Haemangiomas (he-man-gee-omas) are a common type of birthmark that are usually red or purple, and used to be blamed on the eating of Strawberries during pregnancy. I believe we have evolved beyond this fear and Strawberries are held in high regards around the globe, both for nourishment and for their mystery connection to Fairy Folk.
I will be focusing on Strawberries here but I will start with the general health benefits of all berries. Berries are tonic food for nourishing the heart and blood. Berries high potassium content makes them supportive of lowering blood pressure and decreasing risk of stroke. Berries are of high fiber content so are quite good at sweeping that colon clean. Got constipation?? Eat some berries. Berry fiber content is capable of moving the fat from a high fat meal so it is not stagnant. A bowl of fresh berries for dessert is a good idea. Berries are also anti-viral, good to keep in mind.
Strawberries specifically are applauded for their ability to whiten teeth and clear the complexion. Fresh berries have been used traditionally for whitening teeth, crushed and used as a facial mask, and using the juice in making facial lotion. The strawberry juice is used to replace the water in a recipe. Rubbing a cut, fresh Strawberry over a mild sunburn is said to bring cooling relief.
I invite you to pick and enjoy the ripest Strawberries. As the berry ripens on the vine, the level of Vitamin C and other nutrients goes up substantially. Vine ripened, local and in season food, is higher in nutritional value than berries / food out of season and trucked thousands of miles to the grocery shelves in January.
Berries, and especially Strawberries, are high in an anti-cancer compound called ellagic acid. Strawberry leaf tea, like Raspberry leaf tea, is used to bring relief from diarrhea and increase breast milk flow. Eat Strawberries to end constipation and use the leaves to end diarrhea. Perfect food as medicine.
Looking at Strawberries from an Ayurvedic perspective (Ayurveda is a system of balancing health and promoting vitality, a sister science to Yoga), they reduce vata and kapha constitutions and to a lesser degree the pitta constitution. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Strawberries are seen as a Spring tonic and beneficial to the spleen-pancreas and relieving of excess liver toxins.
Strawberries are high in Vitamins C, A, and B-complex and minerals. Raw berries, of any variety, will always be higher in nourishment especially when eaten soon after picking. When we apply heat to berries, we lose vitamin content. If your berries will not be eaten in a day or two, maybe think about freezing them for later use. Local Strawberries in January, right out of the home freezer, are a wonderful treat in granola and smoothies. Strawberries eaten raw right out of the hand, in salads, crushed and put on biscuit for a Summer treat, and used in smoothies preserves their vital nutrients for nourishing your body cells.
Strawberry Herbed Smoothies
I keep these simple with just milk, berries, and an herb of choice. I sometimes add a bit of local, raw honey if the berries are less ripe and not quite so sweet. I have used Cilantro, Basil, Rosemary, and Oregano with Strawberries. Use one herb and go easy on the herb amount so as not to overpower the delicate flavor of the berry.
Strawberry Basil Salad Dressing
- 1 cup organic olive oil
- 1 cup organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water, preferable chlorine & fluoride free
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ cup fresh berries washed and sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
I put the vinegar or lemon juice into my blender with the water and all ingredients except the oil (just because it is easier to clean the blender if it is not oily). Blend well. Pour into quart canning jar and add the olive oil. Enjoy.
To this list I would add recipes for strawberry shortcake, strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry tarts, strawberry turnovers… oh the list goes on and on. But these recipes are easy enough to find online. Enjoy your strawberries while they are here and remember, fresh and raw is most nutritious.