Strawberries ‘Preserve’ the Heart

Strawberries 'Preserve' the Heart

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In Berlin, when strawberries season arrives, heaping boxes of dime sized strawberries can be found at nearly every corner grocer. The stores can barely keep them in stock, as the locals buy them in bulk. The strawberry season is short, and these wild varietals are a delicate produce. They are intensely sweet because they are picked at their exact peek of ripeness. And because of their short travel time from the local farm-to-mouth, they maintain maximum nutritional value. This is quite the opposite from the strawberries we see at our market, most of which have traveled hundreds of miles to finally make their way into the produce isle. Berlin markets, are small and abundant, tucked away in local neighborhoods, almost exclusively accessible by walking. You buy what you can carry and walk back to your home. Sometimes, more than one trip is made to bring home fresh local produce from the grocer. Food scientists have found that after only 2 days of picking a strawberry, much of the vitamin C and antioxidants have diminished. In addition, as storage time increases, the greater the loss of nutrients. The Europeans, it seems, have long been aware of this nutrient fragility, eating mostly regional foods, which are fresh off the farms, by choosing only what’s in season. In Europe, the changing seasons are heralded by the abundance of seasonal foods that come into the local markets. There are over 600 varieties of strawberries, and the wild varieties, although typically smaller than cultivated strawberries, have a more intense flavor. Nevertheless, all strawberries are nutrient rich; the goodness of strawberries is that they are considered one of highest antioxidant sources of food. They contain high amounts of vitamin c, fiber, minerals and polyphenols. In nutritional studies, they have even demonstrated a heart protective effect, showing a reduction of LDL cholesterol therefore protecting our arteries, slowing the growth of cancer cells in culture. (Whitson J, Hamilton CA, Crozier A, et al. Cardiovascular-protective properties of fruit and vegetable extracts. Abstracts of the Scottish Society for Experimental Medicine Meeting, Dundee, UK; 2004:18.) For the rest of us in the U.S., strawberry season may be marked by the presence of strawberries placed right next to the packaged shortcake and canned whipped cream. But, if you are a savvy local consumer, and interested in getting much more nutritional richness and flavor from your strawberries this season, find your local farmer, and buy your berries from him. We guarantee your taste buds will notice the difference, as well as those who share your strawberry shortcake dessert! And with Holly’s simple recipe for strawberry preserves, you’re on your way to making something out of the ballpark with strawberries.

Strawberry & balsamic preserve 2  

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