Guest blog by Sam Hadadi
Nothing says British summertime more than a bowl of plump, juicy strawberries served with lashings of cream.
These mouth-watering berries are a firm favourite here at Lucy Bee and, happily, they’re in season - right this very second.
Whether you love to add your seasonal strawberries to a jug of Pimms, make a strawberry chia jam to spread on scones for afternoon tea, or use them to decorate your favourite Victoria Sponge, now is the perfect time to get picking.
To find out more about this delicious fruit, and to discover our favourite ways to use and eat it, then read on…
While the peak season to get picking tends to be June and July, the British strawberry season officially starts on May 1, when our home-grown berries first hit the supermarket shelves.
As the months start to cool, British strawberries tend to disappear from our shelves. However, milder temperatures meant that farmers were picking them well into December last year – for the first time in history.
Last year1, an amazing 150 million punnets were picked, with 98% of all strawberries sold during the summer coming from the UK. How many other fruits can you say that about…?
Many of us simply look for strawberries when we get a craving for our favourite berry but did you know the shelves can be stacked with plenty of varieties of this lovely red berry?
Elsanta is the most popular strawberry in the UK, probably thanks to its long season and delicious taste. However, other types include Sweet Eve and Eve’s Delight, which both have a longer shelf life (perfect if you want to cut back in waste) and are higher in natural sugars for a sweeter taste.
Other varieties include the English Rose, which has an almost orangey taste, and Jubilee, which makes a great all-rounder. It’s also worth remembering that bigger isn’t always better – smaller strawberries tend to contain less water, so they’ll be far juicier and tastier than their fatter friends.
Another tip to keep in mind is that, once picked, strawberries won’t ripen any more, so it’s a good idea to avoid any that are dull in colour, or have yellow or green patches.
Though they may be small, strawberries pack a mighty nutritional punch. While the phrase ‘superfood’ may get thrown about all too easily, we at Lucy Bee think that strawberries are a real powerhouse since they’re packed with anti-oxidants.
From wrinkle-busting, flu-fighting and amazing anti-inflammatory properties, here are our favourite health benefits of strawberries:
1) They Boost Immunity
As a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin C (just one serving contains almost half of your recommended daily amount), strawberries are great at fighting off colds and flu. This same vitamin C can even help protect the eyes by strengthening both the cornea and the retina.
2) They’re Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Strawberries are also loaded with (take a deep breath) vitamin K and manganese, as well as magnesium, copper, potassium, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and even omega-3s. They’re also high in folic acid, making them the perfect snack for pregnant women, or for those trying for a baby.
3) They’re Skin Food
Thanks to that clever old vitamin C, strawberries are the perfect wrinkle-blasters. The vitamin is crucial in collagen production, which can boost skin elasticity and resilience. The ellagic acid2 found in strawberries has also been proven to prevent collagen damage and works to halt inflammation in the skin after exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
4) They May Lower Bad Cholesterol
Strawberries also contain phytochemicals, including ellagic acid and flavonoids, which can work as an antioxidant to improve heart health. They can do this by fighting the effects of LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) which can lead to blocked arteries.
5) They Can Regulate Blood Pressure
The high potassium levels in strawberries can help to balance blood pressure, and can even lower high blood pressure because it counteracts the side effects of too much sodium. When you combine this with the special powers that strawberries can have on LDL, we’d say that they make a pretty heart-healthy fruit.
6) They Regulate Digestion
As a fruit, strawberries are high in fibre, which is fantastic at helping to regulate bowel movements. Fibre can also help to keep you fuller for longer and slow the absorption of sugars into the blood. In fact, strawberries have even been shown to decrease blood sugar spikes – it’s all thanks to something called polyphenols.
When it comes to eating strawberries, it’s always best to do it as quickly as possible (science bods have shown3 that their vitamin C levels start to plummet after a couple of days). To enjoy them as they come, simply give them a good wash and hull (this removes the green stalk). However, if you want to experiment, then read below for our favourite strawberry recipes.
When it comes to storing strawberries, we’d recommend keeping them in your fridge’s cold storage bins. We’re passionate about cutting back on food wastage, so if it looks like you won’t be able to enjoy them in time, then you could try freezing them too.
If you fancy something a little bit different, then why not attempt our delicious Pastry Free Strawberry Tart? Mouth-watering and super simple to whip up, this makes the perfect pud for dishing up to guests during the summer months…
We also have plenty of recipes and ideas on how to use strawberries in everyday cooking. Here are some of our favourites…happy eating!
Summer Bliss Smoothie
Strawberry Milkshake Smoothie
About Lucy Bee Limited
Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.
The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.