DES MOINES - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said on May 25 that Iowa is entering prime strawberry picking season and growers across the state are ready to welcome customers. The warm March followed by a cooler April was a challenge, but growers around the state are reporting a good crop.
"Fresh strawberries are a treat each year and Iowa growers are reporting a good crop," Northey said. "Many farms will be ready for visitors wishing to pick their own strawberries a little earlier than usual, so I encourage Iowans to consider visiting a farm or shopping for fresh berries at your local farmers market.
"Fresh strawberries are delicious and when they are in season you get the best flavor, prices and nutritional value."
It is good to call or check the farm's website before going to a "You Pick" farm to make sure strawberries are prime for the picking and the conditions are favorable.
To store strawberries, put unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for no more than three days.
Do not wash berries until you are ready to eat them. To wash them, place berries in a colander and rinse under cold water. Remove the green cap after you have washed them.
Besides the scrumptious taste, here are a few more reasons to love strawberries:
Strawberries are the No. 2 fruit in antioxidant content
94 percent of Iowans are eating them.
Children will eat them. More than 53 percent of 7- to 9-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
Strawberries are grown in every state in the U.S. and every province of Canada.
Strawberries are low in calories and fat-free. One cup of unsweetened strawberries has only 55 calories.
Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and a good sources of folic acid, potassium, and fiber.
"While strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat," Northey said, "they also have one of the shortest harvest seasons, so don't delay in getting your fill."