The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen each spring, and the early bloomer packs a punch. According to the USDA, the berry ranks among the top 10 fruits with the most antioxidants. In fact, the ancient Romans believed strawberries had special healing powers, and used the fruit to treat everything from bad breath to kidney stones.

Indeed, the strawberry has quite a resume — and its culinary potential is as impressive as its credentials.

Pick your own

Smith-Perry Berries, 9626 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road

This family farm opened to the public for strawberry-picking for the first time last year. Season runs from late April until the middle of June for strawberries, though check Facebook for updates ( Sunflowers are also available for picking, usually the first three weeks of July. The owners say they do not use pesticides on the crops, and cash and check are accepted.

Here are 10 creative ways to use strawberries in your kitchen this summer.

1. Strawberry spinach salad

2. Strawberry vinaigrette

Easy, delicious and low-calorie, this homemade dressing pairs perfectly with a strawberry spinach salad.

What you need:

» 8 ounces frozen strawberries

» 2 tablespoons honey

» 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

» 2 tablespoons olive oil

» 1/4 teaspoon salt

» 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

What you do:

» Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

3. Quick pickled strawberries

4. Strawberry-avocado salsa

Sweeten up your salsa experience with this refreshing recipe.

What you need:

» 1 cup strawberries, coarsely chopped

» 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

» 1/4 cup chopped red onion

» 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

» 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

» 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

» 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper to taste

What you do:

» In a serving bowl, lightly mix together all ingredients and serve immediately.

5. Oven-dried strawberries

6. Strawberry-jalapeno jam

This recipe is sure to spice up a number of classic eats, from biscuits to thumbprint cookies.

What you need:

» 4 cups crushed strawberries

» 1 cup minced jalapeno peppers

» 1/4 cup lemon juice

» 2-ounce package of powdered fruit pectin

» 7 cups white sugar

» 9 half-pint canning jars with lids and rings

What you do:

» Place the crushed berries, minced jalapeno, lemon juice and pectin into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once simmering, stir in sugar until dissolved. Return to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

» Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

» Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.

» Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart. Allow to cool overnight. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Store in a cool, dark area.

7. Strawberry iced tea

8. Strawberry lassi

Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? This refreshing recipe is the best of both worlds.

What you need:

» 9 ripe strawberries, rinsed

» 2 tablespoons white sugar

» 1/4 cup whole milk

» 1 cup low-fat yogurt

» 3 ice cubes

What you do:

» Cut 3 strawberries into small pieces and set aside. In a blender, place the remaining strawberries and sugar; blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Pour in the milk and blend another 30 seconds. Add the yogurt and blend on high speed for 1 minute.

» To serve, place 1 ice cube in each of 3 glasses and pour in the lassi. Top with reserved strawberry pieces and serve.

9. Strawberries and crème

10. Strawberry frose

This sweet adult bevvy will be the best thing to happen to your summer vacation in a long time.

What you need:

» 1 pound strawberries, hulled

» 1/2 cup white sugar

» 1/2 cup water

» 750-milliliter bottle Malbec red wine

What you do:

» Place strawberries, sugar and water into blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.

» Pour mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; stir in the wine.

» Freeze, stirring once about halfway through, until mixture is slushy, 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

» Remove from freezer and stir to break up the larger frozen clumps.