Five Tips for Strawberries and Some Trivia
Who doesn’t love strawberries…and trivia?
Over 90% of the US population enjoy these sweet, red treats. Why even the ancient Romans loved them. While it’s unclear if the Greeks cultivated them, they certainly wrote about strawberries prior to Roman times. But, it is the Romans who are credited with first cultivating them, mostly for use as a medicinal plant. In the 1300’s the French were cultivating them as well, and not only for medicinal purposes.
King Henry VIII of England was also a fan, once paying 10 shillings for a “pottle” of strawberries, or about roughly 1/2 pint! Today a pint of strawberries in season will cost about $2.50 to $3.50 locally. That’s a pretty cheap food fix for such a tasty treat. It can be even cheaper if you grow them.
The first variety of strawberry in the United States with any significant importance was the Hoveg variety planted in 1834 in Massachusetts. Today there are some thirty-seven varieties of strawberries grown in all fifty states, Canada, and Mexico as well. The big crops come from Florida and California with California being the larger producer giving us about 75% of all strawberries consumed in the country. There are about 36 billion pounds grown in the United States each year!
The flavor of strawberries is affected by the conditions in which they are grown. Like most fruits, the climate, temperature, and ripeness at harvest will make a big difference in the taste. The berry is actually not a fruit, but the enlarged stamen of the flower. New plants come from runners sprouting from the plant, seeds, of which there are an average of 200 per berry, are not normally used to grow new plants.
Tips for Strawberries
Okay, how about some ideas on storage and keeping them fresh?
- Never take the green caps from the berry until you are ready to use it. It will open the inside of the strawberry to unwanted moisture.
- Store them as close to 34˚ F (1˚ Celsius) as possible and away from moisture. A good trick is to layer them with paper towel which will absorb excess moisture.
- When buying strawberries take a look at the bottom of the container for soft, damaged, or moldy berries.
- When you’re ready to eat the little devils give them a quick rinse with cold water and then remove the cap. If you take the cap off and then rinse the water will get into the berry and start to break down the texture and flavor. Also, try to take as little of the cap as possible. With practice a quick twist will remove the cap with ease.
- Bring refrigerated strawberries to room temperature just before serving for the best flavor.
Want to plant your own? It’s easy and you’ll have berries the first year, even more the second year if you don’t pick all the first crop. Keep your bed clean and trim the leaves before cold sets in covering the plants with, what else, straw. Bad joke, I know.
Here’s a video on how we planted our 50 Honeoye plants, which quickly grew to 60 plants the second year, and that’s after I trimmed out runners!
So what’s your favorite strawberry recipe? Here’s our favorite strawberry jam we make yearly.
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 2 tablespoons basil, fresh -- chopped
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon water
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 2 ounces Stilton cheese or feta cheese -- crumbled
- Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Strain mixture through a sieve into a jar, reserving liquid. Set aside strawberries. Add oil and water to jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Arrange 1 cup of greens onto individual 4 salad plates. Top with ½ cup berries, 2 teaspoons dressing and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Serve with French Bread, if desired. Yield 4 servings.
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 1 quart white vinegar
- Cut stems from the strawberries and place in an appropriate size jar. Cover with vinegar, cover jar with lid, not tight, and let sit for two weeks, longer for more flavor.
- Strain and put into clean jar.