An introduction to strawberries
The?strawberry,?Fragaria, is one of the most popular berry fruits in the world. There are more than 10 species of Fragaria that differ in flavour, size and texture yet they all have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems that adorn their crowns.
Did you know…
…strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside. Strawberry plants are?runners, and are not produced by seeds. They have an average of 200 seeds per fruit and are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family.
Big up the strawberry
Strawberries have a long history and have been enjoyed since the Roman times. Native to many parts of the world, hundreds of varieties of strawberries exist due to crossbreeding techniques. In 1714, a French engineer commissioned to Chile and Peru, observed that the strawberry native to those regions was much larger than those found in Europe. He decided to bring back a sample of this strawberry to cultivate in France. The end result was a large, juicy, sweet hybrid (the modern garden strawberry) that became extremely popular in Europe.
Fit for a king
Like many other fruits, strawberries make their claim in history as a luxury item enjoyed only by royalty. It has been alleged that newly weds were entitled to strawberries with soured cream as a wedding breakfast, believing them to be an aphrodisiac.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavanoids which makes strawberries bright red. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. Their fibre and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect. Leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.
Fruit and vegetables make a valuable contribution to a healthy balanced diet, and berries such as strawberries are especially useful. This is because they are rich in colourful pigments which have a protective effect ? these?anthocyanidins?are thought to have a number of potential?health benefits, including prevention of?inflammatory conditions?and heart disease.