Enjoy Strawberries All Year Long

Do you look forward to fresh, juicy strawberries in the spring or summer?

I remember going to “pick-your-own” farms when I was a kid. We picked buckets and buckets of plump red strawberries. Then came cleaning, freezing them or making jams. We enjoyed the strawberries all year.

Strawberries are “in season” in the spring and summer. This is when strawberries are at peak quality and, usually, a lower price in grocery stores and at farmers markets.

When buying strawberries, look for fruits that are bright red with green caps and are free from moisture or bruising.

Many varieties of strawberries are available, but only some are suitable for North Dakota’s growing conditions. Strawberries have two main types of plants: ever-bearing and June-bearing.

Ever-bearing plants produce a crop in late June and early July, with a second lighter crop in late summer. They continue producing until freeze-up if the conditions are favorable. Two ever-bearing varieties recommended for general planting are Ft. Laramie and Ogallala.

June-bearing strawberry plants produce their entire crop between mid-June and mid-July. Recommended June-bearing varieties include AC Wendy, Annapolise, Honeoye, Glooscap, Mesabi and Sparkle.

The best time to plant strawberries is in early spring, but they can be planted into late summer.

For more information on planting, harvesting and preserving strawberries, check out the North Dakota State University Extension publications about strawberries at www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/strawberries-1/h16.pdf 

Fresh strawberries should be stored in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator. Rinse berries with cool running water just before eating them to delay spoilage. Handle gently to avoid bruising the strawberries.

Freezing, drying and making jams and jellies are some of the best ways to preserve strawberries to enjoy them all year long.

One cup of strawberries has about 55 calories. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of folate, potassium and fiber.

Strawberries are one of the specialty crops that can be grown in North Dakota. Visit NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork for more information about growing and using a variety of specialty crops, including strawberries.

Here’s a delicious berry recipe for any time of year.

Slow Cooker Berry Cobbler

2½ c. all-purpose flour, divided
1¼ c. granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 eggs
½ c. whole milk
¼ c. canola oil
⅛ tsp. salt
4 c. frozen mixed berries

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the eggs, milk and oil, and stir until moistened (batter will be thick). Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly into slow cooker. In a separate large bowl, combine the salt, remaining flour and sugar. Add berries and toss to coat. Pour on top of the batter in the slow cooker. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for three hours or until a toothpick inserted into the cobbler comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 370 calories, 9 grams (g) fat, 69 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein and 200 milligrams sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a food and nutrition specialist and professor with the NDSU Extension Service.