Strawberries are among the most beloved of fruits.
They come from a plant called ‘fragaria’ and are members of the rose family.
Despite its name, the strawberry isn’t a true berry.
Technically, it is an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that the fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle (the thickened part of a stem) that holds the ovaries.
Each apparent “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.
The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness.
There are five basic anatomical structures that make up a strawberry plant’s being. They are the leaf, root system, crown, stolon (more commonly called a “runner”), and daughter strawberry plant.
The productive engine of a strawberry plant is contained within the crown. It is from this region that strawberry plants produce both runners (stolons) and flowering fruit stalks that eventually yield strawberries.
There are about 200 seeds on an average strawberry.
The seeds can grow to make new plants, but most strawberry plants instead reproduce by runners. Under certain conditions, strawberry plants have been known to form matted colonies that live up to 50 years.
Strawberry plants decline in quality and production after a few years so are typically replanted.
Strawberry plants tolerate almost any garden soil, but the richer the soil, the larger the crop will be.
Strawberry plants are divided into three categories: June-bearing, which produce the most flavorful berries; everbearing, which typically provide two main crops each year; and day neutral, which flower and fruit consistently throughout the summer.
Strawberry shapes vary from oblate to conic to necked or wedge, and cultivars can produce strawberries of different shapes depending upon the climate in which they’re grown. he type of cultivar appropriate for a particular environment depends upon preference and growing conditions.
The harvesting and cleaning process has not changed substantially over time. The delicate strawberries are still harvested by hand.
Unlike some other fruits, strawberries don’t continue to ripen after being picked.
There are 33 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of strawberries.
Strawberries mainly consist of water (91%) and carbohydrates (7.7%). They contain only minor amounts of fat (0.3%) and protein (0.7%).
The health benefits of strawberries include improved eye care, proper brain function, relief from high blood pressure, arthritis, gout and various cardiovascular diseases.
The impressive polyphenolic and antioxidant content of strawberries make them good for improving the immune system, preventing against various types of cancers and for reducing the signs of premature aging.
Strawberries are rich in antioxidants. In addition to antioxidants, they have many other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to overall health. These include folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, and magnesium. It is also extremely high in vitamin C!
Strawberries and cream is a popular dessert during the British summer, famously consumed at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
In Italy, strawberries have been used for various desserts and as a popular flavoring for gelato (gelato alla fragola)
It is believed that Strawberry Shortcake was developed by the colonists by modifying an Indian recipe that created “strawberry bread” by mixing and then baking crushed strawberries with cornmeal.
While the origins of strawberry plants are widely unknown, they are thought to be indigenous to North and South America as well as Europe and Asia.
The strawberry fruit was mentioned in ancient Roman literature in reference to its medicinal use.
Strawberries are some of the first fruits to ripen in North and South America where they have been enjoyed by indigenous peoples for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Early wild strawberries, much like today’s wild strawberries, were much smaller and sweeter than today’s cultivated varieties.
The French began taking the strawberry from the forest to their gardens for harvest in the 14th century.
The Mapuche and Huilliche Indians of Chile cultivated the female strawberry species until 1551 when the Spanish came to conquer the land.
The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France in the 1750s by crossing a Gragaria virginiana, from North America, with a Gradaria chiloensis, from Chile. Prior to this, wild strawberries and cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat an average of 1.54 kilograms (3.4 pounds) of fresh strawberries every year.
California produces 75 percent of strawberry crops in the U.S.
The heaviest strawberry weighs 250 g (8.82 oz), which was grown by Koji Nakao (Japan) and was weighed in Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan, on 28 January 2015.
There is a museum in Belgium dedicated to strawberries. In the gift shop at Le Musée de la Fraise (The Strawberry Museum), you can buy everything from strawberry jam to strawberry beer.