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Stop and Try the Strawberries

How many pounds of fresh strawberries do Americans consume each year?

  1. 1.5 pounds
  2. 3.4 pounds
  3. 5.2 pounds

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat an average of 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries per year.

Strawberries are a popular fruit of choice, with 94% of U.S. household consuming strawberries. The fruit is bright red, juicy and sweet, and it has seeds on the outside.

Strawberries give off a sweet fragrance and they are considered part of the rose family. The plant is a specialty crop that can be grown in North Dakota. Strawberries are categorized as a perennial plant, meaning the crop continues to grow year after year.

Strawberries have two main types of plants: ever-bearing and the June-bearing. The ever-bearing develop best in late June, early July and again in late summer. The June-bearing strawberry flourishes between mid-June and July. Both plants require well-drained soil and full sun for a minimum of six hours per day.

The freezing winter can be harsh on strawberry plants, especially in North Dakota. You can use mulch or hay to cover the strawberry bed. This will serve as a protective layer to ensure the plant does not freeze rapidly, and the plant becomes dormant for the winter. The mulch can be left on the plant until the crop starts to develop again in early spring.

When harvesting or purchasing strawberries, select the ones that are bright red with a fresh green cap. Check for any signs of mold growth, which would appear white and fuzzy.

To maintain the flavor, color and texture, proper storage is important. Strawberries should be stored unwashed and in the refrigerator to prevent browning. When you are ready to eat the berries, rinse them under cold, running water in a colander. The green caps can be removed just before serving.

If the green caps are removed too soon, an enzyme called ascorbic acid oxidase becomes active and destroys the vitamin C. The berries will lose flavor, nutrient composition and overall quality.

The fruit can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including fresh, frozen, dried or preserved into jams and jellies. Whichever way you choose, a strawberry is nutrient rich in vitamin C, fiber and potassium.

Here is a sweet treat to try on a warm summer day, courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Squares
Ingredients
1 c. crunchy wheat and barley cereal
3 c. fat-free strawberry yogurt
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen unsweetened strawberries (2½ cups)
1 c. fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Directions: Line an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with foil. Sprinkle cereal evenly on the bottom of the pan; set aside. Place yogurt, strawberries and condensed milk in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over the top of the cereal, gently smoothing yogurt mixture to edges of pan. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze for eight hours or until firm. Use edges of foil to loosen and remove from pan. Let recipe thaw for five to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes nine servings. Each serving has about 170 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 95 milligrams sodium.

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Sources:

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

McKenzie Schaffer, Extension program assistant

Strawberries and More, University of Illinois Extension. https://extension.illinois.edu/strawberries/history.cfm

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 14-SCBGP-ND-0038. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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