Every June, both locals and city visitors flock to Hudson Valley farms for the sweetest pickings around — strawberries. Not only do they deliver the sweet-tart taste that completes so many desserts, but they also pack a load of health benefits that will make you crave them all year long.
Strawberries, which are actually members of the rose family and the only fruit with the seeds on the outside, contain high levels of antioxidants. A bowl easily satisfies your vitamin C requirement for the day and boosts immunity. They also work wonders on puffy eyes, acne prone skin, and cracked feet. For instance, mixing a handful of strawberries with a few drops of glycerin and ground oats creates a naturally moisturizing foot scrub.
The nutrients in strawberries can strengthen eyes and prevent cataracts. Strawberries also contain a fair amount of manganese — enough to promote healthy bones. The fruit is loaded with fiber and a phytochemical called ellagic acid, which work on maintaining healthy digestive systems and keeping wrinkles away, respectively.
Aside from being vitamin-packed powerhouses, strawberries — especially picked-from-the-farm strawberries — are one of the most delicious fruits to eat. Load them on shortcake with fresh whipped cream, drop them in a glass of Prosecco, mix them with blueberries and yogurt, or combine them with avocado into salsa. The Valley boasts a number of pick-your-own farms like Secor Farms in Wappingers Falls, Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, Lawrence Farms Orchards in Newburgh, and Ochs Orchard Farm Market & Pick Your Own in Warwick.
Don’t forget to stop by the Strawberry Festival on June 14 from noon to 5 p.m. at Beacon Riverfront Park for fresh strawberry shortcake, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and strawberry smoothies. Guests also enjoy food and craft vendors, kids’ activities, storytelling, and a live music stage. Visit www.beaconsloopclub.org/festivals for more information.