Spring Fruit Harvest In Full Swing
(TRENTON, NJ) ― Jersey Fresh strawberries are here and the plump, juicy and delicious fruit is available now at community farmers markets, local farm markets and pick-your-own farms in the state. Harvesting of the popular spring crop began in mid-May and should continue through early June.
Strawberries are a part of a healthy diet, providing a good source of vitamin C. Strawberries should not be washed until ready to eat because their high water content, on top of the additional water, will result in a mushy berry. Once the caps are removed, an enzyme is released that destroys the vitamin C. Be certain to remove the caps after rinsing to prevent the strawberry from becoming waterlogged and from losing vitamin C content.
Look for strawberries that are plump and firm with a bright red color and natural shine. The size of the berry is not important; the color of the berry and the fragrance are the best indicators of flavor. Caps should be fresh, green and intact. Avoid strawberries with green or white color, or those that appear mushy, shriveled or leaky. Strawberries do not ripen after harvest, so they should be immediately stored in the refrigerator and picked as close to consumption time as possible.
When purchasing, check the carton for stains, which indicate over-ripeness. Remove the strawberries from the market or store container. Store in a shallow container on a paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. If a shallow container is not feasible, put paper towels between the layers. Remove from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature for optimum flavor.
While delicious in baked goods, strawberries are tasty raw, especially when served with a liqueur or when dipped in chocolate. Preserve as a jam, or easily freeze by coating in a water and lemon juice mix.
To find Jersey Fresh strawberries and other Jersey Fresh products at farm markets or pick-your-own farms, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
Search for Jersey Fresh strawberry recipes at www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/recipes/index.html.