Strawberries are the most popular fruit among kids! They’re way better than candy when they’re fresh and in season, as they are right now. Sweet, juicy, and super nutritious: what more could you ask for? One cup of halved strawberries is an excellent source of vitamin C (more than a day’s worth!) and the mineral manganese. Plus, this delicious fruit is a good source of fiber.
Strawberries grow on bush-like plants, which are pretty easy to care for and quite fruitful, especially if you have a good sunny spot for them. Homegrown strawberries are typically much smaller and much more flavorful than the ones grown commercially that you find in stores. If you’re interested in growing your own strawberries, I highly recommend it—just keep in mind that it will take a year before the plant starts to bear fruit. We plant our strawberries in the ground in early fall and then cover them well with burlap over the winter. This always gets us an abundant harvest. These plants just keep growing, so clear a big patch of garden for them and you can get a good harvest for 3-5 years before needing to pull them and plant new ones. Strawberry plants need a lot of water to bear fruit, so keep them well hydrated. These super berries are typically ready for harvest in early June, so now is the time to find locally grown berries!
Kids and adults usually go nuts over fresh seasonal strawberries, and there’s little reason to do much more than wash and serve them. However, we do love the Chocolate Lady Bugs recipe from Appetite for Life! It’s always a hit with kids, and it’s a good way to get picky eaters to eat some fruit! Because the taste of ultra fresh strawberries is so incredible, you may want to try buying in bulk at a local farmers’ market and freezing some berries for later in the year. It’s very simple: wash and dry berries and then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for several hours, or overnight, until the berries are frozen through. Then you can put them in a freezer safe container or plastic bag and store through the summer and fall for smoothies and other recipes where flavor really counts! They should last a few months in the freezer this way.
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA