If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you know I love to share what “waste-not, want-not” knowledge I have as well as my “make do with what’s on hand” ideas + any “think before you toss” tips (there are a lot of those and I’m probably due for another post on the subject). Many “scrap” things like eggshells, coffee grounds, etc, have a second or even third life in them and strawberries are no exception. Believe it or not, those strawberry tops, yes the part you cut then toss, can be repurposed in a variety of creative ways … but munching on the tops itself doesn’t sound all that appetizing, there are several surprising ways they can be used.
Strawberries as a berry are a nutritious, healthy snack, and it turns out, even their leaves and stems pack a powerful nutritional punch, carrying many health benefits. According to my web research, strawberry tops/leaves are very high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium, as well as contain tannins, which helps with digestion, nausea and stomach cramps. They are also loaded with caffeic acid, a compound that alleviates inflammation which is good news for arthritis sufferers like myself. So here we go with some amazing Strawberry Top ideas:
Make A Refreshing Water Infusion
Infusing your water with the tops of strawberries adds flavor and helps to use up those excess pieces that are headed to the trash, disposal or compost bin … this works especially well if you’ve cut off too much of that precious strawberry. To make just place your cleaned strawberry tops into a lidded container and top with water. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours and your water is good to go (you can strain if you prefer). Ten to twenty tops should do the trick but you can play around with the amount to suit your taste. Strawberry infused water also pairs nicely with some cucumber peels, blueberries or fresh mint.
Make Strawberry Vinegar
Fruit infused vinegar recipes are popping up everywhere these days. Strawberry vinegar made from your strawberry tops is delicious drizzled on a salad, mixed into a BBQ sauce (or any vinegar-based sauce), or added to a cocktail. To make, cover your strawberry tops with a vinegar of your choice (white, apple cider, red wine, or balsamic). Cover, and allow it to steep for about a week in the cupboard. Strain the mixture and use your strawberry infused vinegar however you would normally use vinegar. Delicious!
Often we throw leafy greens into smoothies for an additional nutritional boost but don’t stop at the spinach or kale …. toss in your leftover strawberry tops as well, they’ll give your smoothie an extra boost of nutrients. Simply drop the whole berry, top and all (or saved tops) right into your blender. You can also freeze the tops after they have been hulled, saving them for smoothies down the road.
Kick your favorite cocktails up a notch! Just like water, you can also infuse your favorite alcohol with strawberry tops to make your own custom flavored rum, vodka, or gin. Toss tops into a lidded bowl or mason jar, fill with your choice of liquor, and let the boozy concentration sit for about two days. Strain, and use to shake up a new summer cocktail.
Clean and Whiten Teeth
Your dentist might probably never tell you this secret but strawberry leaves are an effective tooth + gum cleaner. Those tannins act as a powerful astringent, helping to fight plaque and keep gums healthy. For a whiter smile, dip your strawberry top into baking soda and rub it onto your teeth, leave the mixture on your teeth for a few minutes before brushing as usual.
Not only are strawberry leaves nourishing for the inside of your body, they are also beneficial for the outside. The inflammation-reducing properties aid with skin inflammation helping to alleviate rashes, eczema, and even acne … and also found in the tops is vitamin C and antioxidants that are beneficial for aging skin. Simply fill a tea bag or tea ball with some strawberry tops and toss into the bath with you. BUT this infused bath isn’t just good for us, our four-legged furry friends will also love a strawberry top bath, which is especially helpful for pets with dry, itchy skin.