Bright, sweet, juicy strawberries are a sign that summer has officially arrived!  Often one of the first items to grace the tables at farmers markets, strawberries are without a doubt a seasonal favorite. With a delightful flavor, wonderful versatility, and tremendous health benefits, it’s easy to see why these heart shaped berries are so loved.

Health Factor: Berry Good for You

Strawberries are full of vitamin C and fiber, making them great for building immunity and improving digestive health. They are a low-carb, low-calorie food, and score relatively low on the glycemic index. Enjoy this satisfying, sweet treat without causing huge spikes in your blood sugar or numbers on the scale.

Manganese, folate (B9) and potassium are also found in strawberries. Additionally, they contain high levels of polyphenols (antioxidants) and can help protect your heart by increasing your HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering blood pressure.

Some studies show that consuming strawberries can even prevent certain types of cancer!

Versatility: Not Just for Fruit Salad

Though there’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a juicy strawberry picked right off the vine, they can also be a delicious addition to your favorite dishes. Paired with a vinaigrette, strawberries add a fresh and sweet flavor to a summer salad. Use them in place of tomatoes to mix up your usual bruschetta recipe, or liven up your party with a strawberry and jalapeño salsa.

Dipped in chocolate, strawberries make a quick and ready-to-serve dessert. Chop them and pour over biscuits with light whipped cream for a yummy strawberry shortcake. A great topper for almost any dessert, they can also liven up fruit salad, smoothies, yogurt, cottage cheese, baked goods, or even water. Because a ripe berry is already so sweet, there isn’t a need to add sugar or sweetener.

Picking the Perfect Berry: Seeing Red (In a Good Way)

Unlike other fruits, strawberries do not continue to ripen when off the vine. It’s important to choose firm, plump berries that have a bright, shiny, red color. Try to avoid berries with any white areas.

Additionally, unless you plan on cooking with them, don’t opt for dull or soft berries; they are already past their peak and won’t last much longer.

Peak Season: Summer

If you’re looking for the best local strawberries, these flavorful fruits are at their peak for the entire month of June.

However, thanks to their popularity and the many produce farms located in warmer climates, you can usually get your hands on strawberries at the grocery store almost year round.