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Strawberries at Catapano Farm in Southold. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)

June is a celebration of strawberries on the North Fork. The refreshing red fruit is back at farm stands and center stage at the annual Mattituck Lions Club’s four-day Strawberry Festival each Father’s Day weekend. Its juiciness and subtle sweetness is welcomed on seasonal menus.

“Once strawberries start coming, I start acting like a kid in a candy store,” said Jessica Melendez, pastry chef at 1943 Pizza Bar. “Personally, it really marks the kickoff of the season. I start thinking of roasting them in the wood oven to make jam to put in a frangipane tart, or to serve with toasted Brie and fresh bread.”

Melendez also recommends enjoying warm strawberry crostatas with vanilla gelato, or for a healthier take, atop a salad or in a vinaigrette.

With a flavor so satisfying, the berries can also be eaten after being freshly picked with no accompaniment.

Strawberries are available throughout June. U-pick options can be found at Patty’s Berries and Bunches in Mattituck and Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue, among many other places.

Broccoli, cabbage, squash and peas are also in season this month.

What’s in Season is made possible by Farm Credit East.

Freshly-hulled strawberries behind the scenes at the Strawberry Festival. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Fun Facts

• Strawberries are the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside.

• There is a museum in Belgium just for strawberries.

• Strawberries are members of the rose family.

• California produces one billion pounds of strawberries each year.

• Ounce for ounce, strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges.

• Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States.

• The annual strawberry festival in Lebanon, Ore., is home to the world’s largest strawberry shortcake.

• Americans eat an average of 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries annually.

Health Benefits

• Low in sugar

• May help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol levels

• Can lower blood pressure

• Reduces the risk of some cancers

• Anti-inflammatory effects

• Supports cognitive function

— According to The Mayo Clinic

Nutrition Information

Amount per 1 cup sliced (8 whole) strawberries:

Calories: 53

Protein: 1 gram

Carbs: 13 grams

Sugar: 8 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Fat: 1 gram

Vitamin C: 12% of RDI

Calcium: 2% of RDI

Iron: 4% of RDI

Potassium: 5% of RDI

— According to the United States Department of Agriculture