We continue with February’s heart-shaped and red theme by observing National Strawberry Day on February 27. These juicy, sweet berries can brighten up any dish and are delicious all on their own.
There are a few different stories behind the origin of the name. The more widely accepted version is that the berries would drop off the leaves and become “strewn” about the plant. Overtime “strewn-berries” became “strawberries”. There was a time (and some gardeners still do this today) when strawberry beds were mulched with straw, insulating the plants over the winter, keeping weeds at bay during the growing season and making them easier to harvest. Another sweet story tells of English children stringing the berries on grass straws and selling the “straw berries” in their neighborhoods.
Strawberries are a little unusual as far as fruits go; they wear their seeds on the outside.
Not only are they delicious, but they are also fragrant. One of the more aromatic fruits, they belong to the rose family.
Strawberries are grown in nearly every corner of the Earth (if the Earth had corners) except for her most frozen southern and northern reaches. Along with all these possible locations, there are over 600 varieties of strawberries as well.
An excellent source of Vitamin C, strawberries are also a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber. At 55 calories and zero fat in 1 cup, these sweet things hit the spot when a snack time is calling!
HOW TO OBSERVE
While the best season for strawberries is from late April to August, now might be a good time to scout out strawberry festivals and pick-your-own farms or plan to plant your own strawberry patch. Imagine sitting in your very own patch eating sun-warmed, sweet berries you picked or even grew yourself under clear blue skies.
The Florida Strawberry Festival begins March 2 thru 12. It’s held in Plant City. You can find a schedule HERE.
BERRY PICKING TIPS:
- Pick fully ripe berries. Strawberries don’t continue to ripen if picked too early like bananas or pears.
- Don’t overfill your container. Berries are tender and can bruise easily.
- Don’t wash the fruit until you are ready to eat. Strawberries are susceptible to mold and washing will speed up spoilage.
- The best time to pick strawberries is on cool, cloudy days, but if they will be eaten right away, any time is perfect!
- If you pick more than you can eat before they spoil, strawberries freeze very well. Pluck off the green caps and toss into a freezer bag. Use for smoothies, ice cream or cake toppings.
- Strawberries aren’t berries at all, they are considered by botantists to be their own seperate fruit!
- Strawberries are members of the rose family.
- Belgium has a museum dedicated to the strawberry.
- The ancient Romans thought strawberries has medicinal powers to cure depression, kidney stones, and a sore throat.
- California produces nearly 80% of America’s strawberries.