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Queens Chronicle

Juicy red strawberries welcome springtime

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Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 12:00 am

Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring and what a glorious addition to the palate after a long winter of deprivation for our taste buds.

The so-called fruit of love has many health benefits. Five average-size strawberries provide the daily required amount of vitamin A and are high in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and potassium. They are a member of the rose family and the only fruit with seeds on the outside, with an average of 200 seeds per berry.

And they’re not just for eating. Did you know that strawberry juice, combined with honey, will reduce inflammation or sunburn? Rub the mixture thoroughly into the skin before rinsing off with water and lemon juice.

Two caveats: eat strawberries soon after purchasing since they do not ripen after being picked and wash them just before serving. Florida strawberries are in stores now.

No one can resist strawberry shortcake or chocolate-covered strawberries. But if you’re looking for more offbeat choices, check out the following recipes.

Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup strawberries

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

4 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in blender and whip up until smooth.

Strawberry Soup

This recipe is served at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and is very popular. The chilled pink soup is both refreshing and eye-catching.

2 1/2 pounds frozen strawberries, thawed with juice

16 ounces heavy cream

2 ounces sour cream

3 ounces plain yogurt

1/2 pound fresh strawberries, halved

Mix frozen strawberries, heavy cream, sour cream and yogurt in a large bowl. Beat slowly until well mixed with a smooth consistency. Chill and then mix well before serving. Add fresh strawberry halves as garnish.

Strawberry Bread

2 cups strawberries

3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans. Slice berries and put in bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and set aside. In separate bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add oil and eggs to strawberries. Add to flour mixture until just moistened. Bake in pans for 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes and then remove.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Chef Lidia Bastianich of Douglaston, TV host, author and owner of Felidia Ristorante, allowed me to reprint her recipe several years ago. It is always a winner and here it is again:

3 pints strawberries

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-fine sugar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Slice strawberries into a bowl. Add vinegar, mix well and marinate for 15-20 minutes. Add sugar and orange juice, mix thoroughly and serve.

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