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By Staff | Jun 6, 2011

DES MOINES Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Monday said this weekend will kick-off the prime strawberry picking season that many strawberry lovers have been waiting for all year.

Reports from growers around the state show that strawberries are maturing a little slower this year due to the cooler weather, but many farmers are saying that this year’s strawberry crop may be among their best.

“Mid-June looks to be the peak of the Iowa strawberry season this year, so the next few weeks will be a great time to visit a ‘You Pick’ farm in your area or shop for them at your local farmers market,” Northey said. “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 farms website before going to a “You Pick” farm to make sure strawberries are prime for the picking and the conditions are favorable. To find strawberry farms in your area visit: www.IowaAgriculture.gov.

To store strawberries put unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for no more than 3 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.

Strawberries are one of the world’s most popular fruits being consumed by 94 percent of all U.S. households.

They are also a healthy option, serving as a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, are low in calories and fat-free.

Strawberries are not only nutritious and delicious but they are also one of the most versatile fruits. Used as a sweet treat or combined with spinach in a salad, strawberries add scrumptious flavor and color to any dish.

“While strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat, they also have one of the shortest harvest seasons so don’t delay in getting your fill,” Northey said.

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