What is a Strawberry?
There’s nothing quite like a juicy bite of a sweet, juicy strawberry. Whether you prefer them chopped into a salad, swirled into a smoothie or straight from the punnet, this small red fruit is one of summer’s greatest gifts. Bursting with flavor, it’s no wonder there is a long history of growing, harvesting and eating strawberries both for recreational and medicinal use.
Strawberries are a small, red fruit that grows on woody, perennial plants. The plant's flowers produce small, white, five-petaled blossoms, then depending on the variety, the ripe strawberry fruit ranges in size from that of a small pea to as large as a walnut.
Strawberry plants are native to North America, Europe, and North Africa. British farmers grew the first commercial strawberry plants in the early 1800s. Within a few years, the delicious fruit proved popular enough that the rest of Europe and North America soon adopted their own strawberry farms.
The strawberry quickly became an important economic commodity, with the fruit being sold in markets or sent by rail or boat across the continent. As the plant spread around the world, so did recipes for the sweet fruit. Today, strawberries have become a mainstay of home gardeners and commercial farms alike.
Not only are strawberries a fruity delight in their own right, they also have some pretty amazing health benefits. The fruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which help fight against free radicals and reduce oxidative stress occurring in the body. This makes them incredibly beneficial to eat regularly as part of a balanced diet.
Strawberries also have high levels of dietary fiber, meaning they can aid digestion, help replace lost nutrients and introduce more beneficial bacteria into the digestive system. As the fiber content of a strawberry is low glycemic, they are a comparatively low-calorie food source, offering a great snack alternative to those watching their waistline.
The unmistakable juicy taste of strawberries makes them a popular fruit for everything from jams to cakes and is often enjoyed as part of a breakfast bowl of cereal. When it comes to preserves, an old fashioned way of making strawberry jam is to add sugar and simmer the fruit in a small amount of water and butter. You whip up this easy recipe in under 15 minutes.
Strawberries and ricotta cheese, in particular, make for an delightful and simple yet tasty dessert. Toss some sliced strawberries with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of lime juice, and serve with some fresh ricotta cheese on the side. The strawberries will contrast the creamy ricotta and cut through the sweetness of the honey, making for a beautiful sweet-savory dish.
When it comes to savory dishes, strawberries offer a unique contrast of flavor and texture when paired with fish, poultry or game. Combine diced strawberries with a handful of herbs, a splash of vinegar, a drizzle of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper, and use this to top grilled salmon, chicken breasts, or steaks.
For an interesting drink, try a strawberry basil mocktail. Simply muddle 5-6 Medium sized strawberries in a shaker with 2-3 Slices of lime and a few leaves of basil. Top with some soda or sparkling water and mix together with a few ice cubes.
This refreshing summer drink is very easy to make and it looks fabulous. It’s a great non-alcoholic alternative to the classic gin and tonic.
No matter how you slice, dice, jam or julienne them, one thing is certain – fresh strawberries make for an incredibly versatile and delicious fruit. Whether you are enjoying them plain or in a recipe, you can be sure that you are getting your daily nutrient boost. So go out and grab a punnet (or tow) of strawberries and start exploring!
Strawberries: A Sweet Journey to Your Dinner Plate
One of the most beloved fruits of the summertime, strawberries bring a delightful splash of color and sweet taste to our tables. However, the journey from vine to plate isn’t always so sweet. Growing, harvesting, and shipping strawberries requires careful planning and knowledge of the science behind their production – and this blog post will walk you through the process.
From “Seeds” to Plants
Just like any other plant, strawberries need light and water to grow. As such, they are incredibly dependent on the climate. In the US, strawberries are grown in all fifty states – most prominently in California, Florida, and Oregon. With a focus on long days and cool nights, the ideal climate for strawberries is located in the American Midwest, specifically Michigan and Ohio - where relatively mild temperatures but long growing seasons provide perfect conditions for strawberry production.
All commercially grown strawberry plants are grown from cloned runners. As opposed to seed-grown plants, cloned runners are identical to their parent plant in terms of genetic characteristics. Cloning is accomplished with a process known as “tissue culture” in which pieces of tissue, generally the tips of strawberry plants, are carefully nurtured in a controlled environment to produce identical copies of that plant. Once the plants have grown to a certain size, they are transferred to the soil, where they are then planted to form a thick bed.
Harvesting and Shipping
The time of strawberry harvest depends greatly on soil type and climate; in the US, most farmers aim to harvest the berries in late May or early June. To ensure that the strawberries are within optimal ripeness, farmers check the aroma, size, and color of the berries during the harvest season. If a strawberry is too light or green, it is typically left for another day.
Once the normal harvest is complete, the next step is to transport the fruit to the store. Many farmers choose to ship their strawberries on pallets, with foam packaging and Styrofoam sheets used to prevent shifting and bruising during shipment. To make sure that the strawberries arrive in good condition, farmers often opt for air shipments, as air is generally less likely to cause damage than other types of transportation.
Protecting the Quality of Fruit
To ensure that strawberries keep their freshness, most growers and shippers place a cardboard box around them while they are en route to the store. This box helps to protect the berries from physical damage, and also aids in trapping the natural temperature and humidity of the strawberries to help them stay fresh throughout the trip. Strawberries require strict temperature control while being shipped as well – too hot, and they’ll spoil; too cold, and they’ll freeze.
In addition to temperature and humidity control, many shippers also use gas-controlled techniques to help maintain the quality of the strawberries. Ethylene gas is commonly used in this method, and helps to promote ripening of the fruit after it reaches the store.
From Store to Plate
Now that the strawberries have safely arrived to the store, it’s time for them to reach their final destination – your dinner plate. Once you have chosen the highest quality strawberries, there are a few key points to keep in mind when it comes to preserving their freshness. Store them with the stem-side up to allow air to circulate throughout the container and prevent moisture from collecting on the berries. When you remove strawberries from the container, store them flat so that the moisture can escape.
Of course, the best way to get the fullest flavor and nutrition out of your strawberries is to eat them as soon as possible. Make sure to rinse them, and enjoy them in any number of dishes. They’re the main flavors in many popular summer desserts, such as cobblers, pies, and tarts. But don’t forget that you can use them in savory dishes, too. Smart chefs know to use them as an excellent way to balance acidity in a dish.
No matter how you choose to enjoy them, strawberries are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including loads of vitamins C, K, and B1, as well as iron, magnesium, and potassium. With their sweet flavor and juicy texture, they’re sure to brighten up any meal.
Eager to sample strawberries fresh off the vine? While strawberry production may be a complex process, you can easily find farms in your area that offer pick-your-own experiences. A great way to get the freshest possible fruit, picking your own also gives you an up-close look at how strawberries are cultivated and harvested, from field to plate.
|Vitamin A||0.001 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.29 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.0022 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.0588 grams|
|Vitamin B1||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.39 mg|
|Vitamin B4||0.0057 grams|
|Vitamin B5||0.13 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.024 mg|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 0.4 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
Daily Value 4.7 g
Daily Value 2.3 g
Daily Value 0.011 g
Daily Value 0.9 mg
Daily Value 0.0023 g
Daily Value 0.055 mg
Daily Value 0.004 mg
|Aspartic Acid||0.149 grams|
|Glutamic Acid||0.098 grams|
|Total Sugars||4.9 grams||
|Palmitic acid (16:0)||0.01 grams||
|Total Saturated fatty acids:||0.01 g|
|Oleic acid (18:1)||0.04 grams||
|Total Monounsaturated fatty acids:||0.04 g|
|Linolenic acid (18:3)||0.07 grams||
|Linoleic acid (18:2)||0.09 grams||
|Total Polyunsaturated fatty acids:||0.16 g|
|Total Sterols:||0.01 g|