Recipe Challenge

Take note, strawberry lovers. Enter your favorite recipe in a new contest from the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Strawberry lovers, enter your favorite recipe in a new contest sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Strawberry lovers, enter your favorite recipe in a new contest sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

courtesy Florida Strawberry Growers Association

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Plant City/Dover, Florida – Home cooks, culinary professionals and culinary students nationwide are invited to compete for cash in the first Florida Strawberries – A Taste of Summer All Winter Long Recipe Contest.

“A total of $6,000 in cash prizes will be awarded,” says Sue Harrell, director of marketing for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA). “There are two divisions – home cooks and professionals. The categories for entries in each division are starters and salsas; salads; sweets, and best photo.”

Entry form, rules and FAQs are found at the contest’s website. The contest ends February 28. Contest sponsors are the FSGA and Taste of the South Magazine, a publication of Hoffman Media, LLC based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Florida strawberry growers began hand-harvesting the first fruit of the winter strawberry season in late November. Each year Florida is the dominant U.S. supplier of strawberries from November through early spring.

“Each carton of Florida-grown strawberries will have geographic identification noting where the product was grown. We understand that consumers are thoughtful in their purchases of fresh produce today. Knowing these berries are grown in Florida should give buyers confidence in the quality and freshness of winter strawberries,” says Ted Campbell, executive director of the association.

Strawberries are nutritious. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. A one-cup serving (about 8 to 10 medium-sized berries) contains 45 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium.

The growers association offers 10 tips for selection, storage and serving fresh Florida winter strawberries:

● Select berries that are firm, fragrant, plump and bright-glossy red. Their caps should be bright green and fresh looking. Strawberries don’t ripen after harvest.

● Cool berries as soon as possible and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

● The perfect storage temperature for strawberries is 32 to 36 degrees.

● Store the fruit in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in clamshell containers or in partially opened plastic bags to maintain high humidity.

● Use strawberries as soon as possible after purchasing.

● Berry flavor is at its best at room temperature, so remove them from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving.

● To help berries retain flavor, texture and nutrients, avoid washing or removing their caps until ready for use.

● Remove the green caps with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife. It’s as easy as a twist of the wrist.

● Serve strawberries straight up, out of hand for an easy grab-and-go nutritious snack.

● What could be better than strawberries and cream? Look for reduced-calorie or fat-free whipped cream products to save on calories.

For more on Florida strawberries, visit the association’s website.