Strawberries are a fruit to many people, a snacking option for many nutritionists but still believed to be under explored by researchers. Cultivated in the area of Punjab; Sheikhupura, Nankana, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Qasor, Mendibhawaldeen, Sargodha, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Chakwal. In KPK, strawberries are cultivated in Swat, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Mirpur, Mardan Charsadda and Peshawar. The soil pH range for strawberry production is about 4.6–6.5 (Milošević 1997). Since strawberry can easily adapt to its environment and it can be obtained almost in all seasons, it has an expanded culture in the markets and its marketability is high. Strawberries have immense health benefits. a lot of options in cooking but they are still underexplored.
Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, potassium and other trace minerals. They not only have nutrients but also contribute to other health benefits such as combating cancer hence, making them a superfood. A bioactive compound called anthocyanins, are rich in strawberries and have a heart healthy response when consumed moderately by raising the HDL cholesterol and improving blood platelet’s function hence, making strawberries good for you. However, most of us do not know the benefits of nature that we sometimes deprive ourselves from. Since, this small beauty is rich in fiber as well, this directly helps in controlling constipation while indirectly helps in lowering LDL (low density lipoprotein). Dietary fibers are important to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut and improve digestive health. They are also useful for weight loss as calories in strawberries are low and can help prevent many diseases. Half a cup of strawberries is just 30 kcals which is not only fulfilling but also light on energy. And the good news is, strawberries are also friendly with all types of skin, preventing the skin from reacting with unnecessary pimples, scars and eliminating dead skin cells by the compound called alpha-hydroxy acid present in strawberries.
So, the strawberries not only taste good but do good as well.
But, the question is, are we utilizing the potential of strawberries to the fullest? What an awful act it would be to waste such a superfood due to your negligence?
Strawberries like many other fruits and vegetables of Pakistan experience post-harvest laxity when it comes to handling and transportation. Pakistan is producing a limited quantity of strawberries. Therefore, it is paramount to enhance the yield of horticultural crops not only quantitatively but also qualitatively with every limiting resource of cultivated land. Hence, we cannot afford to waste the limited cultivation we do for strawberries. Almost 20% of the strawberry is wasted of the total yield. This particularly due to the fact that this red creature is susceptible to damage. The softer the fruit, the more likely it is to rot and get de-shaped. Also, we have limited ways of transportation and bulk imposes weight on strawberries and it gets smashed. So, the solution comes down to more advanced transportation techniques. The country has great potential not only in exporting strawberries but also utilizing the rejected strawberries. Jams, pastes, candies and powders are just a few to name.
The by-products or the smashed strawberries still have an immense number of bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins and flavonoids. These compounds together with the by products go to the waste but, could be saved by extracting these compounds through analytical techniques. To prevent the wastage of unusable strawberries, researchers use fermentation to make strawberry juice. Various updated techniques and management procedures have been introduced to reduce the wastage and deterioration of the quality of strawberry fruit. In many parts of the world, organic fertilizers are being made from food wastage to improve the yielding quality of strawberry fruit. These special organic fertilizers are richer in nutrition than synthetic fertilizers and help in improving the nutrient quality of the soil which in turn produce refined strawberry fruits.
But, the dilemma still remains there. Strawberries are under constant negligence by the local farmers as well from the government. The immense benefits that we could attain from the waste of strawberries is still a question. We need to rethink our policy of growing the strawberries to gain the fullest from them.