Nothing smells more like summer than fresh strawberries. This sweet, sweet berry is not only rich in vitamin C and fibre; it has the celebrity status of the produce world!
- Did you know strawberries are a member of the rose family?
- Strawberry first had the name strewberry, its name was changed to strawberry after farmers used to bring them to market on beds of straw.
- Strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside skin and each strawberry has up to 200 seeds.
- These ruby red, heart shaped fruits have long been associated with love and romance.
- In Belgium, there is a museum dedicated to strawberries The Strawberry Museum is located in a park. It presents its visitors with five exhibition rooms dedicated to the local history and strawberry growing.
- If you’re a child of the 1980’s (especially a female) you’ll remember the character Strawberry Shortcake and her cat Custard. There were many related products, such as clothing, dolls, and sticker albums (the scratch and sniff stickers were my favourite).
Where are they grown?
The strawberry was originally grown in northern Europe, now they are grown in many countries such as: Mexico, Chile, Canada, and the United States. Strawberries are prominently grown in Florida and California and are in our retail stores year round. In Ontario, we grow two varieties of berries: June bearing and Day Neutrals. The peak season for June bearing strawberries starts in June and ends in July. Day Neutral strawberries, start in May and produce berries again in August until mid-October giving Ontarians the option of local for up to 5 months of the year.
Picking, Storing and Serving
When picking the berries look for ones that are completely red with no white or green spots. Ripe strawberries will also have a fragrant sweet smell. To keep strawberries fresh store them in the refrigerator with tops on, unwashed and lightly covered in a single layer. Use fresh strawberries within three to six days of picking. Before serving the strawberries, rinse under cold running water. Do not soak berries because they will absorb water, which makes them lose their flavor. Then gently pat dry the berries with paper towel, remove tops, and serve.
Strawberries are packed with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and potassium. They are high in fibre and have numerous healthful phytochemicals. One serving of strawberries is an excellent source of vitamin C; helping to keep your immune system in balance.
Strawberry recipes are flowing this time of year. Everything from strawberry shortcake and strawberry cheesecake to sliced berries on ice cream to salsa and festive drinks. Try this strawberry jam recipe from MarthaStewart.com for the yogurt popsicles to make a tasty summer treat.