Who doesn’t love fresh just-picked strawberries? Whether you pick them yourself, buy them at a farm stand or farmers market, receive them in your CSA delivery, or find them at your local market, there’s nothing that says “summer is just around the corner” like tasty fresh strawberries!
What’s in a Name?
Have you ever wondered where the name “strawberry” came from? There are two possible origins. One is the farmers’ practice of mulching the plant with straw. The other is that children in London would collect berries, string them on pieces of straw, and sell them in markets as “straws of berries.”
The earliest mention of strawberries was in ancient Rome around 200 BC, and perhaps even as early as the Greeks. By the 1300’s, the strawberry was in cultivation in Europe. The French transplanted the wood strawberry from the wilderness to the garden . . . In 1368 King Charles V has his gardener plan 1,200 strawberries in the royal gardens of the Louver in Paris. The first sketch of the plant was printed in 1484.
The botanical name for strawberry is Frugaria. This latin word means “fragrance.” How perfect is that?
Growing strawberries is relatively easy. There are a number of strawberry varieties that are gown nationwide. In order for a cultivar to be sold nationwide, it has to be very hardy and adaptable. The strawberries on this list are safe bets for most locations. They are the top ten broadly-adapted cultivars currently sold in the U.S.
If you want to get specific and grow strawberries best suited for your state, this page has varieties specific to your state. From Alaska to Florida, from California to Maine, and everything in between, you’ll find information specific to your state. You’ll even see information about growing strawberries in Hawaii (although they aren’t highly recommended for Hawaii’s tropical environment.
Commercially-grown strawberries shipped to far away places are typically varieties bred for shipping and a longer shelf life. These varieties most likely have half the sugar content of a traditional home variety picked fresh off the plant. That’s the perfect enticement to grow your own strawberries, find a u-pick farm, or buy local.
Let your strawberries fully ripen. They don’t ripen after picking like some fruits. If you leave the stem on, they stay fresh longer. Picking strawberries is a wonderful activity for the entire family.
If you’re not growing your own strawberries, there are u-pick farms in every state.
Once picked, strawberries are happiest in the refrigerator. They like the crisper drawer best because it has the best humidity. Don’t wash your berries until you’re ready to eat or preserve them. Washing them adds moisture and causes them to spoil more rapidly.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and flav0noids. They are very low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. They’re a good source of potassium, fiber, and magnesium. One serving of about eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange!
Strawberry Jam, Anyone?
We recently made strawberry jam. Yum! What a treat! Our next post will show you step-by-step how we did it, complete with some lip-smacking pictures. In the meantime, we suggest you find the freshest strawberries you can and sit back and enjoy them!