By Contributor Matthew Groves
Growing up in rural middle Tennessee, I loved the beginning of summer. Finishing school, the start of baseball season, and going to sleep away camp were all things I looked forward to, but my favorite thing about mid-May was the strawberry festival. I’m talking a parade, queen, carnival, the whole nine yards. Everywhere you turned, strawberries were there. From selling them in the back of a truck bed to pick-your-own patches on the side of the highway, these sweet berries were readily available. I remember picking berries in the garden behind our house and coming back in with my face all red and juice running down my shirt.
Strawberry season in the south runs from early- to mid-May until June. Fresh strawberriesare also available from California from January until November and Florida in December through May. Originally, I loved the berries for the taste, but the more I dove into my studies of nutrition, I began to appreciate the ruby-red berries for their nutritional content. Berries in general are rich in phytochemicals. They serve as antioxidants, helping fight free radicals produced by cell death and damage. They are also great anti-inflammatory agents, and studies have shown their benefits being linked to lower risks of cancer, with research in breast and colon cancer. New studies have demonstrated strawberries to be beneficial in reducing the risk of type two diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels.
Strawberries are my favorite fruit, no matter how you fix them. Jam, pie, cobbler, or shortcake, I love strawberries. I might be a little biased with Tennessee berries being my favorite, but no matter where your berries come from, I’m sure they’ll taste great in these strawberry dessert recipes.