The sweet scent of fresh Ontario strawberries can easily be one of our favourite summer memories. The fruit is so prevalent in the Canadian kitchen that most of us could describe the flavour at a drop of a hat. You may even have perfected your favourite way to eat them but we have 10 facts you might not know about the beloved strawberry.
- The strawberry is NOT actually a berry. Botanically speaking, the strawberry is an aggregate accessory fruit (the fleshy part is not from the plants’ ovaries). Each ‘seed’ is one of the ovaries of the flower with a seed inside.
- Strawberries are indigenous to Canada. In Canada, the Cree used roots, leaves, and berries to treat diarrhea and dysentery. The stems and roots were boiled to help with sore throats. Wild strawberries can also be found in other parts of North America, South America, as well as, Europe and Asia.
- Strawberries do not need soil to start growing. The seeds of a strawberry respond to light rather than moisture. You have the birds to thank for dispersing the seeds of the wild strawberries. It seems that when birds eat the wild berries the seeds pass through their system but remain intact and in reasonably good condition.
- The first garden strawberry traces back to the 18th century in Brittany, France. This is the recognizable garden strawberry we all munch on at home or in the park. It is a result of a crossbreed from the wild Fragaria virginiana and the Fragaria chilonesis plant.
- 9.2 million tons is the weight of the annual world production of strawberries. This 2017 statistic is the equivalent of more than 100 thousand large houses!
- Strawberries are grown in every single Canadian province and U.S. state. However, 70% of the strawberry production in North America occurs in California.
- The most expensive strawberry costs $638.00 CAD. That’s 50,000 YEN in Japan where luxury fruits are treated as a specialty gift. The strawberry is named 'Bijin-hime' (beautiful princess), the high-end fruit reached its high price due to its size, sweetness, shine, fragrance and colour.
- Strawberries do not continue to ripen after they are harvested. Unlike most fruit that continue to ripen after picking, strawberries hit peak flavour once plucked off the runner.
- The flavour of a strawberry is a direct influence of weather, variety, soil and of course ripeness when harvested. There are 3 main categories of strawberries:
June-bearing, which produce the most flavourful berries.
Everbearing, which typically provide two main crops each year.
Day neutral, which flower and fruit consistently throughout the summer.
- Eating strawberries before exercising helps with endurance training. Research suggests that the high levels of nitrate in strawberries increases blood and oxygen flow to the muscles.
Storing tips: Wash fresh berries and cut the stems off. If you plan to keep them in the fridge for a few days, wait until before you eat them to clean them. (Rinsing them speeds up spoiling).
When perfectly ripe, these heart-shaped berries get plenty of love with no shortage of ways to eat them. We would love to see what kind of fresh strawberry dishes you are into this season. But first, here is a little inspiration to get you started thanks to our Strawberry Rhubarb Galette.