Do you like strawberries? Be your answer yes or no, we are sure you would want to know about them; things like where they came from, how they got their name, how nutritious they are, and their symbolism. Learn some interesting facts about strawberries.
Strawberries, small red fruits clad in scarlet red, dotted with tiny seeds and wearing green little caps, make one of the most deliciously attractive fruits on Earth. They come in many varieties having different colors and flavors, and some variations in shape.
Let's look at some interesting facts about the production, plantation, nomenclature, nutrition, as well as the history and symbolism of strawberries.
▸ Reportedly, the United States was the greatest producer of strawberries till 2005.
▸ California has around 700 strawberry growers and it produces strawberries on over 20,000 acres of land every year.
If all the strawberries produced in California in a year were to be laid one after the other, they would complete 15 circles around the world.
▸ Once, Spain followed the United States in the list of the largest strawberry producers worldwide.
▸ The United States is still the largest producer. Turkey ranks second and Spain comes third.
They are followed by Egypt and Mexico. Among the upcoming players in the global strawberry market is China.
▸ The plants can be classified as June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day neutral. June-bearing cultivars produce one crop during the late spring or early summer. Benton is an example of this type.
Cultivars of the ever-bearing type produce crops during spring, summer and then during the fall. Ozark Beauty is an example of this type. The day neutral ones produce fruit throughout the growing season (in summer and fall). They bear smaller fruit that are delicious. This type has been developed from ever-bearing plants.
Seascape is an example of day neutral strawberries.
▸ Honeoye, Earliglow, Ozark Beauty, Hapil, Cambridge Favourite, and Aromas are among the popular strawberry cultivars.
▸ How did the strawberry get its name? Some say that the name came from the practice of placing straws around growing strawberry plants.
Others say that the name evolved around 1000 years ago from the word strew that means 'spread', applicable to runners that spread outwards from the plants.
▸ Strawberries belong to the order Rosales, family Rosaceae and genus Fragaria. The word fragaria comes from the Latin word for 'fragrant'.
▸ Italians refer to strawberries by the name Fragola.
▸ Interestingly, strawberries are not fruits. They are enlarged receptacles of the flowers and hence known as a secondary fruit. They are an aggregate accessory fruit and aren't classified as true berries.
Plantation and Care
▸ Strawberries are planted during the months of September and October.
▸ The plants are perennial. Once they produce fruit, they continue for five years.
▸ In about a month after the flower opens, the fruit ripens and becomes ready to be eaten.
▸ The plants are handpicked after every three days. This is the time required for a strawberry to change its color from white to red.
On picking, they are cooled and delivered to the markets in refrigeration.
▸ Strawberry is the only berry that has seeds on its external surface. Other berries have seeds inside. A single strawberry has 200 tiny seeds.
▸ They are the first ones to ripen in spring.
▸ They should be harvested only when ripe, as they do not ripen once picked.
▸ A lustrous red color and medium size are indicative of a good flavor.
▸ To reap the maximum nutritional benefits from strawberries, they should be eaten raw. Fresh ones are the best for consumption. A storage period of 2 days at a temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is ideal.
Nutrition and Health
▸ Strawberries are low in fat content and calories. They are rich in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid as well as potassium.
▸ They can reduce the risk of cancers and heart attacks.
▸ Their intake helps in the reduction of systolic blood pressure.
▸ Fresh juice from strawberry pulp helps in recovering from fever. Strawberry juice, if combined with honey, can reduce inflammation. It has a curative effect on sunburns.
▸ Consumption of strawberries by pregnant women reduces the risk of birth defects in their children. This is due to their folic acid content.
▸ Polyphenols in strawberries help regulate blood sugar response. Interestingly, the rise in blood sugar levels due to sugar intake, can be compensated for, with an equivalent intake of strawberries. They aid digestion.
▸ Strawberries are anti-inflammatory. Phytonutrients present in them possess anti-inflammatory properties and also act as antioxidants.
▸ In an analysis of antioxidant content of foods, strawberries ranked 3rd. Blackberries & walnuts were higher in the list. They rank 3rd among the best fruit sources of manganese. Higher in the list are raspberries & grapes.
▸ Strawberries help remove stains from teeth.
▸ Intake of nitrate-rich strawberries helps increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles.
▸ Improved cognitive and motor functions are among the other health benefits of strawberries.
Strawberries in History
▸ Originally, strawberries were known as heart-seed berries and eaten with cornmeal bread. The English and the French used them to landscape their gardens.
▸ In the 14th century, Charles V of France had ordered 1200 strawberry plants to be grown in the Royal Gardens.
▸ It is said that Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII had a strawberry birthmark on her neck.
▸ It is believed that Madame Tallien, an important person in Emperor Napoleon's Court, used to bathe with the juice of fresh strawberries.
▸ Since long, strawberries have been associated with love. Some consider them as a symbol of Venus, the Goddess of Love.
▸ Some believe that splitting a double strawberry into two and sharing it with someone of the opposite sex may lead you to fall in love with him/her!
▸ During the olden days, newlyweds were served strawberries.
▸ During the medieval times, strawberry designs were painted on altars and pillars of churches to symbolize righteousness.
▸ Strawberries and cream is a traditional Wimbledon snack. More than 25,000 kg strawberries are consumed every year during the Wimbledon.
▸ In Bavaria, there is a custom to tie strawberry baskets to the horns of cattle as an offering to the elves.
▸ In Belgium, there is a museum dedicated to strawberries. It is called Musée de la Fraise.
▸ There are several strawberry festivals held in different parts of the world, especially in the United States. These events are organized around late spring, which is the time of harvest of this fruit. They are a treat to strawberry lovers as they offer loads of entertainment and fun activities to the visitors.
Also, a number of strawberry delicacies like pies, shortcakes, jams, and desserts are served at these events.
A recent survey has revealed that those who love strawberries are of a fun-loving nature while those who do not, are morons. You love strawberries, don't you?