By Jennifer Bridge
COVID-19 sure has altered a lot of our routines. Likewise, the Meade County Farmers’ Market is adapting to our new reality. Thankfully, the market will open on their traditional start day of the first Saturday in May. The market is required to implement social distancing and restrictions just like other businesses. Those attending the market will be required to sanitize their hands before shopping and will be restricted on picking up fresh produce and a few other simple guidelines which will be available at the market. One of the most anticipated fruits at the market is strawberries and I have noticed a few of my social media friends have started posting pictures of their strawberry patches and the welcome sight of one of my favorite fruits. While it is doubtful you will find strawberries at the market this weekend it is hopeful to have some in the near future. To find out what will be available at the market like the Meade County Farmers’ Market Facebook page. Market hours this year will be Saturdays’ 9 a.m.-Noon, Sundays 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and Tuesdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Meanwhile if you want to know more about strawberries read on. Hope to see you at the market sometime this summer! Strawberries in Kentucky make their appearance at farmers’ markets near you around May each year. Of course, strawberries are available almost all year long at supermarkets but are in greatest abundance from spring through mid-summer. Since they are highly perishable, choose brightly colored, plump, highly aromatic berries that are free from mold. Eight whole large strawberries measure about one cup. When you buy a pint of strawberries, it will yield about 2 cups of sliced berries. Gently wash the strawberries in cold running water and pat them dry before removing the caps and white hull. Research suggests that strawberries begin to lose their nutritional value (vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants) quickly, usually within two days. Store the unwashed and unhulled berries in a sealed container to prevent unnecessary loss of moisture. Storing in the refrigerator can increase storage time but cannot prevent the loss of nutrients. Freeze washed strawberries in a single layer, before transferring them to a heavy-duty freezer container. Freeze for up to six months for the best quality. Besides their sweet, delicious flavor, the nutritional value of strawberries is well known and growing. Besides vitamin C, strawberries are a collection of polyphenol antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, tannins, and stilbenes. Strawberries are also an excellent source of manganese, a trace mineral that your body needs in small amounts. Because of the strawberry’s rich antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, recent research is providing us with more evidence that strawberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research is also promising in the area of blood sugar regulation and improved cognitive processes as we age. Tested strawberries are commonly high in pesticides, but the reports rarely list the pesticides found or how much was found. Certified organic strawberries are not guaranteed to be free of pesticides but may have a lower risk of the rate of detection than conventional produce. Since eating fruits and vegetables is far healthier than not eating them, don’t let the naysayers keep you from enjoying nature’s bounty. While there are ways to use strawberries besides eating them (like home beauty treatments and teeth whitening), Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud has a website with several recipes using strawberries. Try the Strawberry Salsa on your next grilled chicken dinner or on top of your favorite pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast. Strawberry Salsa 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar ½ teaspoon salt 2 cups, coarsely chopped fresh strawberries 8 green onions, chopped 2 cups chopped cherry or grape tomatoes ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro Directions: Whisk olive oil, vinegar and salt in large bowl. Add strawberries, green onions, tomatoes and cilantro and toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Serve with tortilla or pita chips. Yield: 7, ½ cup servings. Nutrition Analysis: 40 calories; 2 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 1g protein; 60% of vitamin C. Source: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.