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Sandra Cain

By Sandra Cain

Sandra CainIt’s that time of year again.  Strawberries are here and they are plentiful!  Strawberries are low in calories and high in nutrients. One cup of strawberries contains 55 calories. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C.  A one cup serving provides more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C. They also contain vitamin A, iron, fiber, and folic acid. Folic acid is especially important for childbearing women.

Selection: Choose fully ripened, bright red berries. Strawberries do not ripen after they have been picked. Berries should be plump and have a natural shine and bright green, fresh-looking caps.  The caps should be fully attached.  Use strawberries as soon after picking as possible for the best flavor and highest nutritional value.

Storage: Store strawberries in the refrigerator, covered, unwashed, and with the cap on.  If you have the space, gently spread the berries on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Use berries within two to three days.

Handling: Handle strawberries gently. Never remove the caps before washing. The caps prevent water from soaking into the berry, which lessens the flavor and changes the texture. To wash, cover berries in cold water and lift gently out of the water to drain. Dry by placing berries in a single layer on paper towels. After washing, remove the caps. Give the cap a gentle twist or use the point of a sharp paring knife or pointed spoon. Pat berries dry with paper towels before serving whole or sliced, fresh, or cooked.

Yield: Due to the many variables, such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations as to quantity to buy. As a rule of thumb, 1 quart strawberries = approximately 3 ¾ cups hulled, whole berries.

Source:  Ohio Cooperative Extension and Kentucky Cooperative Extension

Strawberry Cream Dessert

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1 carton (8 ounces) reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed

3 cups skim milk

2 packages (1 ounce each) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

2 pints fresh strawberries, halved

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in whipped topping on low speed until smooth.  Set aside. In another bowl, combine milk and pudding mixes. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese mixture until smooth. Set aside 1 cup of strawberries. Fold remaining strawberries into pudding mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl and arrange remaining strawberries on top.  Cover and refrigerate. Yield: 8 servings

Strawberry Muffins

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Additional sugar for topping

Pre heat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. On a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir well until all ingredient are well blended. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries.

Using a large spoon, gently fold ingredients just until moist do not overmix. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, if desired. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.