The flavorful, fragrant & fabulous fruit
By Maddie Bane
Fun fact: strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside. Did you know the average strawberry packs up to 200 seeds? No wonder so many get stuck in your teeth. This tasty, bite-sized fruit packs a punch when it comes to nutritional values, and with South Carolina using hundreds of acres for growing, they’re more than easy to come by in the Lowcountry. They’re also fairly easy to grow at home, if you’re feeling up for a project. Strawberries are members of the rose family. Should you come upon a bush of them growing, you’ll notice that they smell as sweet as they taste. With spring here, strawberries will be popping up and ready to devour.
Too good to be true
Low in calories, low in carbs, and high in fiber, strawberries are great for snacking and cooking. They’re a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, manganese, folate, and potassium. Vitamin C is essential for immune and skin health, manganese is important for many different processes in your body, folate is helpful in tissue growth and cell function, and potassium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure.
The gift that keeps on giving
The ideal time to plant strawberries is early spring, usually early April. They’re shallow rooted and grow best in sandy soil that drains well. Be sure to plant them 12 to 18 inches apart and in full sunlight in order to produce maximum fruit. Since strawberries are a perennial, if they’re planted this year, they’re sure to come back every year for several years. It’s tricky to determine when fruit will start growing, but once it does, the plant remains active for about five years.
How to use them
Much like any fresh fruit, strawberries can be eaten raw as a snack, in a salad, or blended into a smoothie, just to name a few examples. The bright red color can bring any dish to life. However, don’t neglect those unripe green strawberries. Although the flavor is tart, they’re being used more and more often for pickling and baking.
Where to order them
Strawberry Fields sushi roll: Escolar, jalapeño, cream cheese, topped with strawberries, roasted almonds and eel sauce.
Carolina Crab Co.
House Spinach Salad: Baby spinach, strawberries, toasted almonds, feta cheese and creamy onion dressing.
Harvest Veggie Burrito: Black beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, roasted corn, guacamole, cilantro lime rice and strawberry chipotle sauce.
Where to buy them
Bluffton Farmers Market
71 Green St., Bluffton
Thursdays: Noon-5 p.m.
Dempsey Farms U-Pick
1576 Sea Island Pkwy., St. Helena Island
Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Hilton Head Island Farmers Market
70 Honey Horn Dr., Hilton Head Island
Tuesdays: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Goat cheese and strawberry toast
Bread of your choice, sliced
1 cup strawberries
1 log goat cheese
1 handful pistachios, crushed
Mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
 Toast your bread while slicing strawberries.  Once bread is crispy, spread on goat cheese and top with strawberry slices and crushed pistachios.  Drizzle with honey and garnish with mint leaves.
LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Strawberry and basil pizza
Prepared pizza dough
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
5 ounces goat cheese
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic glaze, to taste (optional)
 Heat oven as directed and prepare pizza dough on cooking sheet.  Add mozzarella and goat cheese to dough.  Bake until golden and the crust is crisp underneath. Top with basil, black pepper and strawberries. Optional: Drizzle balsamic glaze on top.
LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Strawberry oat crumble bars
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg white
1 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup slivered almonds
 Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a square baking pan with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, add flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, baking powder, rolled oats and butter. Mix until the butter is no larger than pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup for the topping, and press remaining mixture evenly into the pan.  Combine strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch into a medium bowl and toss until strawberries are coated. Spread strawberry mixture over the crust, and add remaining crumble over the top. Sprinkle almonds over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until crumb topping is light golden. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into squares.