May is for Strawberries!

Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God ever did!

William Butler, 17th Century

Years ago, a dear friend of mine awakened me to the fact that of all the things there are to celebrate in May, the annual entrance of strawberries during that month is one of the greatest.  I believed her.  And ever since I learned the importance of strawberry picking, eating, and celebrating in May, those many years ago, I love the excitement of greeting this great little red fruit every May.

It is true enough that with fruit transportation and freezing, it’s easy enough in this culture to not remember just how wonderful local, fresh, organic strawberries can be. So let me remind you, less you miss them at their peak this month, and at probably their bottom dollar pricing.  May is for strawberries!

The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal.

They not only taste great  — they are among the fruits and vegetables ranked highest in health-promoting antioxidants.  Antioxidants help combat the damaging effects of free radical activity to cellular structures and DNA. It’s best to enjoy strawberries (and all fruits) raw as opposed to baked or cooked into desserts,  because they provide the best flavor and the greatest benefits from their vast array of nutrients and digestion-aiding enzymes.  Peoples around the world have long been eating fruit for dessert, not only as a delicious ending to a meal, but as a great digestive aid as well.

Strawberries abound in benefits to the human body!

They are sweet, sour, cool, and moist.  They are rich in flavanoids, vitamins B ,C, and E, and iron.  They also contain ellagic acid, which is a potent, anticancer compound.

Strawberries have blood-purifying, astringent, diuretic, lover-tonic, and wound-in local healing properties.  This fruit is a medicinal food in cases of anemia, constipation, fevers, hangover, high blood pressure, and jaundice. Because strawberry helps the body eliminate uric acid, it is used for gout, arthritis, and rheumatism.  Because it moistens the lungs, it has been helpful for dry cough, sore throat, and tuberculosis. Cut strawberries can be rubbed over the teeth to whiten them and remove dental plaque without damaging enamel.  It’s an amazing berry, for sure!

There is caution needed here, amidst all the enthusiasm for strawberries.

In this country strawberries are among the most hybridized and pesticide- and herbicide-contaminated produce items on the market.  Enjoy them at their fullest gift potential by buying organic varieties, especially this month while they are plentiful, in season, and well-priced in local Farmers’ Markets and You Pick Farms. Also, berries that are overly large often lack flavor, and berries with whitish tips may have been collected too soon before proper ripening.

For best results in storing strawberries, keep them in an open container in the refrigerator, removing any spoiled ones first.  Leave the green caps on while rinsing to prevent water from entering the berry and diluting its full flavor.

Strawberries are a heavenly snack and can also be used in a variety of recipes.  They are sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving, and make wonderful culinary decorations.  The leaves of the strawberry plant are also edible. Like other greens, they are rich in minerals, and have a flavor similar to that of black tea.

It’s important to get strawberries that have been vine-ripened.

Otherwise, they can be allergenic for some people, causing skin eruptions or indigestion. However, these symptoms may simply be a result of clearing toxins from the body – a good thing. Again, when at all possible, get strawberries that are locally and organically grown, and eat lots of them in May!

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