It’s strawberry season, which in my view officially kicks off the season of fresh fruit–finally! I have issues… with fruit. Up until now only a select few in my close circle have been aware of my…what should I call it: Fruit phobia? Fruit antithesis? Fruit nemesis???
The truth is, I have fruit trust issues. Too many times have I been burned by the tasteless, so-called “fruit” gleaming innocently in grocery store displays. Strawberries are a perfect example. At most times of the year, they taste like slightly moist pieces of cardboard. So now, I only like strawberries during 2 weeks of the year, when they are ready to pick from the garden and so juicy that you need to eat or preserve them immediately. Compromise I shall not!
After rhubarb, strawberries are the first really colorful fruit to splash on the gardening scene. Below are some of my favorite ways to eat (and preserve) strawberries.
- Strawberry jam (duh) But what kind? Strawberry balsamic jam and strawberry orange are divine combinations.
- Speaking of balsamic, this might sound surprising but it’s really good: Strawberry mozzarella salad with fresh basil or mint
- Drizzled with fruit vinegar and/or honey
- Made into syrup such as for strawberry lemonade
- Combined with vinegar and seltzer for a refreshing strawberry shrub
- And if you can’t eat them right away, freeze them for smoothies, or slice and dry them for using in tea blends. You’ll thank yourself later when it’s winter and you are faced with nothing but grocery store cardboard strawberries!
Strawberries are a New World fruit bred from a cross between the eastern North American Fragaria virginiana and the Chilean Fragaria chiloensis. Before breeding programs produced this modern hybrid, people ate wild strawberries such as the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca).
Wild strawberries are extremely cute. Although the animals usually get to them first, they are worth seeking out solely because they are so adorable and eating one is like tasting the essence of strawberries.
A final question: Why are they called strawberries? Rumors abound: The berries look like they are studded with straw, they look like they are “strewn” on the ground, and so on. I will note that they do really well with a layer of straw spread under them as mulch. This gives the berries a nice bed to lay on and prevents rotting and nibbling bests.