Friday, June 11, 2010

Incidental Strawberry Facts

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love interesting facts and details. I find the smallest things fascinating, and you never quite know what I will find interesting. My biggest problem is that I keep telling everyone all the things I think are interesting. Maybe that is why I am doing this blog at all. I feel like you might just think this stuff is interesting too!

From the CSA this week we got a delicious quart of strawberries. Thing 1 and 2 ate many of them during the day. So when I came home at night there were only about a third of the quart left. I felt that it was the good and responsible thing to share the last of the berries with the kids, but did I do that? Nope. I hadn't eaten a single one since we got them. So I selfishly saved them all for myself.

I thought some fun strawberry facts were in order and I found a great website that had a twelve page post about strawberries that I thought was just so cool. I have pulled out some of the best of those twelve pages here. In some cases, particularly the etymology and folklore sections, I have taken passages directly from the website, lest anyone think I am trying to take credit for their lovely work.

In prehistoric times, wild strawberries were so small that they were not a great source of food for man. Though some small strawberry seeds have been found in archaeological sites in Denmark, Switzerland and England.

Although strawberries were enjoyed in the Ancient world and are mentioned by some Roman writer, it is unlikely that they were cultivated. Most reference to the ground strawberry, or Fraga, in ancient texts regard the gathering of this berry.

In the 1500's in England, English ladies began planting strawberry patches in their home gardens because they loved strawberries and cream so much.

It was the gardener of King Louis XIV, Jean de la Quintinie at the Palace of Versailles who first kept a detailed account of how to develop larger berries in cultivated strawberries. This was good, because the King declared Strawberries his favorite fruit!

Strawberry plants grow in all 50 states and are very adaptable in nature. There are also indigenous varieties South America and Europe. And all cultivated strawberries throughout the world can trace their history back through the joining of a Virginian and a Chilean variety some time in the early 1700s (the website isn't specific)

The name strawberry came about easily because straw was used freely to mulch the plants during the winter, a practice that discourages weeds and lifts the berries up from the soil. When it came time to harvest the berries, children would pick them and string them on a blade of straw. At the London market the children would sell "Straws of Berries."

Originally strawberries were called strewberries, a name descriptive of how they grew. The berries appeared to be strewn among the leaves, and the runners themselves appeared to be strewn among the plants.

Each of the romance languages, French, Italian and Spanish, refer to the strawberry as Fraise which means fragrant.

The Naragansett Indians called it "wuttahimneash" which translated as heart-seed berry.

Legends often tell about love rituals. Be careful with whom you share a double strawberry. It is destined that the two of you may fall in love.

Because of their bright red colors and heart shapes, strawberries were the symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love.

Henry VIII's second wife, Ann Boleyn, was thought to have been a witch because she had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck.

One cup of fresh strawberries contains only 43 calories. It also comes with a healthy content of every vitamin and mineral except Vitamin B12.

Just 5 medium-sized strawberries will supply your minimum RDA of Vitamin A and includes the following nutritional benefits:
1 g. protein (who knew??)
.5 g fat
10 g. carbohydrates
3 g. fiber
.6 mg iron
1 mg sodium
20.2 mg calcium
30 mg phosphate
39 IU Vitamin A
.03 mg thiamine
.10 mg riboflavin
81.6 mg Vitamin C
239 mg potassium
.02 mg zinc
14.4 mg magnesium
.09 mg Vitamin B6
25.5 mcg folacin

Strawberries do not ripen after they are pick--but they do go bad, so eat them within 3-4 days (sometimes less!)

Wash and cut up only what you will eat that day. Strawberries you want to store should have their stems intact. Wash your berries before cutting the tops off because this will avoid excess water entering the berry.
So I had strawberries and cream for desert. And you know I don't think I have ever had that. When I was a kid my father would make that for me, but I think we always used to put sugar on the berries. I highly recommend that you try just strawberries and cream with no sugar. The sweet and tart flavor of the berries is balanced by the almost salty flavor of the unsweetened cream. It is an altogether different experience. Strawberries and ice cream is great, but try it without all that sugar and you are in for a super simple treat.


  1. QUOTE:
    "In prehistoric times, wild strawberries were so small that they were not a great source of food for man."

    Strawberries, like so many other fruits and vegetables, have been cultivated over thousands of years. The result is often bigger and sweeter, but not always more healthful. And now there are genetically modified frankenfoods.

    Jim Purdy
    The 50 Best Health Blogs

  2. You are right. I should have said that they were not a LARGE food source. Cultivation has unwittingly limited the nutrition in many of our fruits and vegetables.