by Keith Tsuchiyama, Produce Buyer
Nothing says summer like deliciously ripe, sweet berries. The riper the berry, the stronger the fragrance and just their fragrances alone will have you dreaming of desserts filled to the brim with berries. But, berries are not just to be used in desserts, they actually make a stunning flavor and appearance in savory dishes as well. Berries can be cooked down and added to marinades to accompany a number of meats or are a wonderful addition to dress up a salad dressing. Berries are delicious alone, dipped in brown sugar and sour cream, combined in a delicious fruit smoothie, or coupled with mascarpone cheese. Berries are very versatile and absolutely irresistible. The possibilities are endless! This week, we are featuring our locally grown, sweet strawberries on ad and now’s the best time to take advantage of the deals!
Fertile valleys and coastal breezes are considered the secret to growing premium berries. The mineral rich soil and coastal air, days warmed by the California sun and nights cooled by the Pacific Ocean fog, the moderate temperatures and the 12-month growing season make our California coast the ideal place to produce sweet, beautiful, premium berries.
Did you know: The largest strawberry-producing state is California, which harvests 83% of the strawberries grown in the U.S. on approximately 24,500 acres.
Select strawberries that have a bright, glossy appearance and maximum red color for the best possible eating experience. The strawberry is considered a non-climacteric fruit, meaning that once it has been picked, it does not ripen.
Recently deemed as a nutritional “superfood”, the strawberry is an excellent source of antioxidants, potassium, nitrate, folate and fiber and is reported to contain 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
Did you know: Ancient Romans used strawberries as medicine, believing they could cure fever, bad breath, gout, sore throats, depression, fainting and diseases of the blood.
The best place to store your package of berries in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Keep them closed in the specially designed plastic clam shell containers or place fruit in a partially opened plastic bag to maintain high humidity and low temperatures. Washing adds moisture and will cause the berries to spoil more rapidly. Do not wash berries until just before usage.
To wash your strawberries, rinse them thoroughly under cool running water, drain in a clean strainer and pat dry with a clean paper towel. For maximum cleaning, gently rub each berry under running water or use our Fruit and Vegetable wash which is proven to pull pesticides, waxes and chemicals from fruit and vegetables. Strawberries should always be washed just before eating or preserving.
Strawberries may also be frozen whole or in pieces. To freeze, wash and hull (take off the stem), sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar, and toss gently with your hands. Place in freezer containers or zip-top bags. Use within 1 year.