It’s strawberry season
Local strawberries are available at pick-your-own sites and grocery stores, so now is the time to enjoy nature’s bounty! Nutritionally, they are great served as washed berries right out of the patch for your entire family. Strawberries have amazing health benefits: they improve complexion, strengthen teeth, are great for eyes, boost immunity, promote hair growth, improve brain health and reduce inflammation. Strawberries are naturally low in calories, about 50 calories per cup, and they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber and magnesium, and they are extremely high in Vitamin C. Enjoy fresh strawberries!
Traditional Strawberry Jam
5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 pounds.); 1/4 cup lemon juice; 6 tablespoons pectin; 7 cups granulated sugar; eight (8-ounce) half-pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands.
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside. Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, with water two inches above jars. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. If not sealed, refrigerate. Sealed jars should be kept in dark storage.
Yield: eight, 8-ounce half pints.
Easy, Eggless Strawberry Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk; 2 cups heavy cream; 1 cup white sugar; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; 2 cups mashed fresh strawberries; 2 drops red food coloring (optional).
In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, strawberries and food coloring. Pour the mixture into the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Yield: 8 servings.
Quinoa Strawberry (Spinach) Salad
Quinoa is a popular whole grain thanks to its quick cooking time, high protein content and nutty taste. The quinoa really soaks up the dressing in this recipe. Wait to dress the salad until right before serving. You will use about a bag of salad greens, total. You can use all spinach, all arugula or half and half.
Serving size: 1 cup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; 2 tablespoons olive oil; salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry quinoa; 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chiffonade; 2 cups arugula; 2/3 cup sliced strawberries; 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted; one handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Place quinoa in medium saucepan along with 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove lid and cook until all water is evaporated. Remove from heat.
Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a bowl or jar.
Place the quinoa, spinach, arugula, strawberries, toasted almonds and basil in bowl and combine. Add and toss in dressing just prior to serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional information (based on 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper):
serving size: 1 cup; vegetables, 1/2 cup; fruits, 1/4 cup; calories, 182 calories; carbohydrates, 18 grams; fiber, 3 grams; protein, 5 grams; fat, 10 grams; sodium, 33 mg.
Sources for this article include N.C. Extension Food Preservation and Med Instead of Meds educational programs. For more information about the Foods and Nutrition please contact Louise L. Hinsley at the Beaufort County center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 155 Airport Road, Washington, 252-946-0111.
Louise L. Hinsley is the Family Consumer Science extension agent at Beaufort County Cooperative Extension.