Strawberries grew wild for centuries and were appreciated by many Europeans, although much smaller in dimension than we have today. Like so many other fruits appreciated initially as medicinal and mentioned in ancient Roman writings, they’re depicted in oil paintings throughout the 15th century by Renaissance artists (a little snacking on the side, possibly?) . Appears they were consumed as a panacea to melancholy (who can feel blue once you have sweet berries to nosh on?) .
Gathered from the forests by early colonists, foodie president Thomas Jefferson experimented with unique varieties in his enormous gardens as early as 1789, serving them up at grand dishes to the joy of his guests. His frustration was that the small size at that moment, still a strain of the Alpine variety which he brought home from France. Luckily, horticulturists and growers continued to work on producing a larger size and of course were finally profitable.
But Americans aren’t the only nation which cherishes this beautiful red fruit. In Italy, strawberries are a favourite gelato flavor. The Greeks prefer to dip them in sugar, then roll them in brandy. Japan still experiments with dozens of varieties, which were initially very expensive and available only for royalty. Throughout the 1930s, their creation was increased dramatically, and they now rank as one of the best growers in the world.
Obviously, America’s love affair with the strawberry is legendary, as we far surpass any other nation in production and use, cranking out 1.5 million tons per year, a third of the whole world’s production. Translating into just over 9 lbs per American in consumption, Here Is What tops the U.S. hit parade:
Ice cream – in popular Neapolitan (with vanilla and chocolate ) or by itself
Yogurt – fruit at the bottom or mixed
Smoothies – mixed and flavorful
Pairs nicely with bananas
Fresh – independently, sliced and sugared or as a topping
Sliced – to breakfast cereal and sandwiches
Hardy and easy to grow, the plants also make an attractive ground cover, even though neighborhood creatures like to sneak into backyards and devour the fruit once the coast is clear. They also freeze well and can be appreciated year-round.
If you’re lucky to live in a region where strawberries are grown, an enjoyable outing is seeing a”pick your own” area, though it’s tiring under a hot sun and places a strain on the back, worth doing once (and all you can eat in the procedure ). So make it a point to get a quart or two in your next trip to the local supermarket or farmers market. The top ones are fresh, ripe and flavorful.