After weeks of the winter doldrums, everyone always looks forward to spring, when cold winter nights give way to longer and sunnier days; and the Earth seems to awaken with new life. It is also the season when you can start looking forward to enjoying fresh berries handpicked from the strawberry patch in your garden. Yes, strawberries…because these sweet, succulent treats are the very first fruits that will ripen in springtime.
Everyone loves strawberries. Who can refuse a bowl of strawberries and cream, or chocolate-coated strawberries? Some would even tell you that nothing compares to the pleasure of biting into a fresh, ripe, sweet and juicy strawberry. They are not only delicious eaten fresh; they are also flavorful and nutritious additions to salads, baked goodies, smoothies, iced teas and cocktails.
However you like to enjoy strawberries, here are some facts about this exceptional fruit that will make it more so.
- While seeds are usually found in the interior of the fruit, the strawberry is unique because it is the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside. Each tiny seed is called an “achene,” and is, in fact, an individual fruit containing a seed.
- An average-sized strawberry has approximately 200 seeds.
- Strawberries need to be mature when harvested because they do not continue to ripen after they are picked. They are also very delicate fruits and have to be picked by hand. To maintain quality, they are harvested with their caps and stems attached.
- Strawberries turn from white to green to bright red when ripening. Most people love to eat strawberries when they are ripe and very sweet; however, some creative chefs have invented ways of using the green, tart unripe strawberries in cakes and salads.
- A delicious way to ensure sufficient intake of Vitamin C is to eat 8 fresh strawberries every day, which already provides 160% of the recommended daily requirement. In addition, you will also be getting significant amounts of fiber, potassium and folate.
- Regular consumption of strawberries can result in whiter teeth and younger-looking skin. The fruits contain ellagic acid, a compound which not only removes stains on the teeth but improves skin elasticity. The skin-rejuvenating property of the fruit was probably why Theresa Tallien, a Frenchwoman who was a well-known social figure during Emperor Napoleon’s reign, bathed in a tub full of strawberry juice.
- Native Americans were among the first people to use strawberries for dessert. They mixed mashed strawberries with corn meal and baked it into bread. The colonists made their own version of this bread and invented strawberry shortcake.