The strawberry has powers that span many areas, from health to romance to gourmet. Here’s all you need to know about this newly crowned “super fruit.”
Name that fruit
The strawberry is a hybrid known in the scientific community as Fragaria x ananassa. In botanical circles, it’s deemed the garden strawberry — the descendant of wild strawberries. The French bred today’s version in Brittany in the 1750s.
Where do strawberries come from?
In the United States, strawberries are primarily grown in California (roughly 90%) and Florida (about 8%), followed by New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. China, Turkey, Spain, Egypt, and Mexico are the leading international producers of strawberries.
When are strawberries in season?
When are they not? You can find them in your supermarket year-round, but strawberry inventory typically rises in the spring, the perfect season to pick them — thus the designation of May 20 as National Pick Strawberries Day.
In Japan, strawberry availability peaks in winter — but no thanks to Mother Nature. Farmers in that country grow the fruit in huge greenhouses, thanks to huge kerosene heaters.
How many types of strawberries are there?
Thanks for asking: 600. Some of the most popular types of strawberries are Albion, Cavendish, Jewel, Seascape, and Sparkle.
Which type of strawberry does Harry & David favor?
While it uses several types of strawberries, its star strawberry (starberry?) is the Albion. “They’re large,” notes Jane Hunts, merchandising manager for the Harry & David fruit division. “It’s not uncommon for them to measure 2 inches or more — it takes two or three bites to eat one.” Hunts adds, “Generally, you get more flavor from a small berry. But with the Albion, you get a large berry that also tastes good.”
What should you look for in a strawberry?
More than looking at color — strawberries get darker after you pick them — give them a sniff. The ideal strawberry smells strong and sweet, which speaks to their ripeness. Your best bet is to buy strawberries in season, which, in the U.S., is late April through August.
How to store strawberries?
Once you’ve picked or bought the fruit — assuming you don’t eat them immediately — you’ll need to refrigerate them. Strawberries are susceptible to mold spores, so room temperature is their enemy. Keep this fruit cold and dry — no washing before storing. And, while we’re at it, leave their green caps intact. Just line an airtight container with a paper towel, drop in the strawberries, and refrigerate.
Once I’m ready to eat my strawberries, should I wash them first?
Absolutely! Unwashed strawberries can harbor dirt, bacteria, pesticides — even tiny insects.
Are strawberries good for me?
Let’s just say congratulations are in order: This past February, strawberries were upgraded from a mere fruit to a “super fruit.” They’re chock full of vitamin C (more on that below), minerals, antioxidants, and plenty of flavonoids. Armed with all these nutrients, the fruit can help lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, improve insulin resistance, promote heart health, reduce blood pressure…
Where did chocolate-covered strawberries come from? Some sort of kitchen collision?
The confection originated in the 1960s in the Chicago gourmet store Stop N’ Shop (no relation to the supermarket chain). There, worker Lorraine Lorusso brainstormed the combination, making dessert history. The pairing works because opposites complement: The chocolate is bitter and smooth, the fruit sweet and textured (crunchy, even). Somewhere along the line, this treat became the dessert of honeymoons and Valentine’s Day.
So strawberries are considered…sexy?
You know they are! Cosmopolitan, in fact, calls it “a symbol of teasing sensuality.” Said to be the symbol of Venus, goddess of love, the fruit’s sex appeal goes as far back as ancient Rome. Later, in France, villagers fed newlyweds strawberry soup, considering the fruit an aphrodisiac (one of many). And they may have been on to something: Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, which relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow (a sex enabler). Plus, the fruit’s magnesium and potassium are known to support sex drive. And, c’mon — the fruit’s even shaped like a heart.
Strawberries are not an actual berry
Call them what you like — clearly whoever named them did — but strawberries aren’t actual berries. Technically, they’re an aggregate accessory fruit: The pulpy part comes from the receptacle that holds the ovaries, not from the plant’s actual ovaries. Without slicing too deep into the topic, there’s also the matter of it having seeds on the inside and out.
6 things you can do with strawberries
Whether you buy one or make one, strawberry face masks are an actual thing. They’re said to protect skin from UV rays and help skin look younger and healthier.
Feed them to Rover
Yes, dogs can eat strawberries! They make a good, healthy snack — even containing an enzyme that can whiten canine teeth. That is, assuming your dog is into that kind of thing.
Turn them into fruit leather
In the same way you can transform apples and pears into fruit leather, so can you with strawberries.
Make strawberry butter
So easy: Just smash them up and blend them with softened butter to get a sweet, creamy spread.
Or jelly them. Either way, strawberry is a top fruit pick for making jam or jelly.
A USDA study has found that foods high in flavonoids — yay, strawberries! — may protect cognitive health and slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Our 5 favorite strawberry recipes
An ingredient for romance? Clearly. But strawberries also star in these sweet dishes.
Power of Fruit
Learn more about nature’s candy with our series on seasonal fruit.