Strawberries (Fragaria) have been a popular fruit for much of human history. Initially, there were only wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca). But then accidental crossbreeding led to the development of the garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa), which is now cultivated throughout the world.
Fresh strawberries are a delicious, healthy, low-calorie snack. They also taste great in muesli (Erb Muesli), fruit salads, smoothies, and punch, and made into strawberry mousse. Strawberries are not only an aesthetic decoration on cakes and ice cream, they also give desserts a fresh, fruity flavor.
Strawberries taste great cooked — they can be pureed to make compote or a sauce to go with a dessert. You can also use strawberries in fruitcakes, tarts, and tiramisu.
Additionally, strawberries can be made into jam. They gel easily and have a lower acidity than other fruits. For these reasons, they are often mixed with red currants and rhubarb. Strawberries are also found in liqueur and rumtopf.
Why are strawberries considered nuts? Botanically, strawberries are aggregate fruits — fruits that develop from a single flower with multiple ovaries that merge as the fruit grows. Strawberries are also described as accessory fruits (false fruits) or fruits in which some of the flesh is not derived from the ovary but rather from adjacent tissue. A strawberry’s ovaries are in fact the seeds that grow on the outside of the strawberry.1,2 Raspberries and blackberries are also aggregate fruits.
To make a vegan strawberry and rhubarb smoothie, you will need two rhubarb stalks, 1 banana, 200 g strawberries, 1 tablespoon rolled oats, and 1 tablespoon ground nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds).
Wash the rhubarb and cut into small pieces. Put all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
In a saucepan, combine 250 mL almond milk, 200 mL coconut milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter, and 6 g agar-agar. Mix gently. Season to taste with a vanilla bean pod or vanilla extract and 1–2 tablespoons brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil while stirring and then simmer for 2–3 minutes. Divide into 4 small glasses and refrigerate for a few hours. While the panna cotta mixture is cooling, puree 200 g strawberries and sweeten to taste. Divide the strawberry sauce into 4 wide shallow bowls and carefully turn out the panna cotta onto the plates.
You can buy strawberries in all major supermarkets including Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl (Great Britain); and Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Harris Farm (Australia). In Central Europe, strawberries are in season from May to July. This is similar for most of the United States, where June is considered the peak of strawberry season. During this time, you can buy regionally grown strawberries and may also be able to buy strawberries at fresh food markets, strawberry stands, and straight from the farm. There are some places where you can even pick strawberries yourself.
In the US, when you buy strawberries during off-season they most commonly come from California, or are imported from Central and South American countries such as Mexico and Chile. In Central Europe, strawberries are imported from a variety of countries throughout the world including Southern Spain, Southern France, Israel, and Egypt.
Canned strawberries are not commonly found in major supermarkets. Freeze-dried strawberries (lyophilization) may be available at health food stores and organic supermarkets. In winter, they are a healthy and ecological alternative to imported strawberries. You can eat them with muesli alongside freeze-dried raspberries and blueberries.
The most common type of strawberry is the garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa), a cultivated strawberry species. It is the result of an accidental crossbreeding of two wild strawberry species: the Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana).3 The Chilean strawberry is found on the North and South American Pacific coast. The Virginia strawberry is native to North America. You can find it in open forest clearings.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca), also called woodland strawberries, are a completely different species from garden strawberries. They can be found in large parts of Europe and northern Asia, especially in and along the edges of light deciduous and coniferous forests.4 Wild strawberries have been crossbred with garden strawberries to create a hybrid strawberry cultivar: Fragaria × vescana.3
Wild strawberries are tastier than garden strawberries. You can almost always replace garden strawberries with wild strawberries and other strawberry species in recipes.
Strawberries are sensitive fruits: they bruise and decay easily and are very susceptible to mold. When transporting strawberries, make sure that they aren’t packed too close together because this is how they bruise.
When stored at room temperature, freshly picked strawberries only stay fresh about one day. Strawberries are not climacteric fruits, meaning that they do not ripen once picked.
Water decreases the flavor of strawberries, so you should only briefly rinse them right before eating. If you refrigerate strawberries and store them properly, they will stay fresh for up to two days.
Strawberries should be stored unwashed in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, preferably in a large sieve or colander. You can also place them on a paper towel. This absorbs excess moisture and prevents the strawberries from going bad so quickly.
At 32 calories/100 g, strawberries have very few calories. They are 91 % water and contain practically no fat and very little protein.
Strawberries contain lots of water, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, they contain more vitamin C per 100 g than lemons. Strawberries also contain more ascorbic acid than lemons: 59 mg/100 g compared to 51 mg/100 g. Wild crapemyrtle (1678 mg mg/100 g) and seaberries (450 mg/100g) are also very rich in vitamin C.5
Strawberries contain 24 µg/100 g of folic acid. Hokkaido pumpkin and zucchini contain the same amount of folic acid. Folate, the natural form of folic acid, is mainly found in legumes. Folate is very sensitive to light, heat, and oxygen. If you don’t prepare food that contains folate properly, you can lose up to 90 % of it.5 According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the daily requirement of folate is 300 µg. Pregnant and nursing mothers require between 450 and 550 µg per day.6
Potassium is found in a wide variety of foods. Herbs, legumes, and nuts are often particularly rich sources of potassium, for example, parsley contains 2680 mg/100 g, chickpeas contain 720 mg/100 g, and almonds contain 730 mg/100 g. When compared to other fruits, strawberries contain a relatively high amount of potassium: 153 mg/100 g.5Bananas, which are well known for their high content of potassium, contain 360 mg/100 g.
At 0.39 mg/100 g, strawberries contain a considerable amount of manganese compared to other fruits. Manganese is a trace element mainly found in the germ and outer layers of grains, but nuts and seeds are also rich in manganese. Some examples include wheat germ (9–10 mg/100 g), hazelnuts (6 mg/100 g), and pumpkin seeds (4.5 mg/100 g). Blueberries and sea buckthorn contain similar amounts of manganese as strawberries: 0.34 mg/100 g and 0.6 mg/100 g respectively.5
Blueberries and bilberries usually have a very good ratio of omega-6 (linoleic acid, LA) to omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA). In general, berries contain very little fat and accordingly the amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 are also low.
The body absorbs alpha-linolenic acid and uses it to produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which have anti-inflammatory effects. On the other hand, the body absorbs linoleic acid to produce arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation. Blueberries’ healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is another reason why they are considered a healthy food.
Detailed information on the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a variety of berries (sources: USDA, Önwt, and Debinet).
|Fresh Berries||Omega-6 Fatty Acids (g/100 g)||Omega-3 Fatty Acids (g/100 g)||Ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids (LA:ALA)||Total Fat (g/100 g)||Source|
|Blackberries||0.19 0.4 0.36||0.09 0.3 0.26||2:1 1.25:1 1.3:1||0.34 1.0 1.0|| |
USDA Önwt Debinet
|Blueberries||0.2 0.22||0.2 0.15||1:1 1.5:1||0.6 0.6|| |
|Raspberries||0.25 0.1||0.2 0.15||1:1 1.5:1||0.6 0.6||USDA Önwt|
|Strawberries||0.09||0.06||1.5:1||0.21 0.4||USDA Debinet|
|Currants (red and white)||0.05 0.04||0.04 0.03||1:1 1.25:1||0.13 0.2||USDA Debinet|
The high vitamin C content of strawberries make them beneficial for the immune system. Strawberries contain ascorbic acid, which has an antioxidant effect and binds free radicals and protects the body’s cells from damage. Ascorbic acid also protects the skin and can counteract aging.7
Red fruits contain a wide array of anthocyanins, or water soluble pigments that give red plants their color). Strawberries contain more than 25 anthocyanins.8 Anthocyanins also have antioxidant effects on the body. They protect the body’s cells and DNA from oxidative stress.9
Regular consumption of strawberries lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.10
Strawberries contain a lot of phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects.11 Ellagic acid, a polyphenol, is one phytonutrient with antioxidant properties found in strawberries. It has been shown to inhibit the "growing" of cancer cells.12
Strawberries are very susceptible to fungal "growing", which is why farmers in industrial agriculture use an array of fungicides. The effects that an accumulation of these pesticide residues may have on the body are not yet known. They are suspected to be carcinogenic.13
You should therefore buy organic strawberries when possible. Organic standards require that any measures used to protect the plants while growing must not leave residue. There are also minimum growing periods before strawberries can be harvested.
Wild strawberries are used to treat stomatitis (inflammation of the mucous membranes) as well as other stomach and bowel problems.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are also known as woodland strawberries. Cultivated varieties of wild strawberries can be dated back to the fourteenth century. Wild strawberries are particularly small, meaning that it is quite laborious to grow them.
Garden strawberries have been cultivated for about 200 years. Today, there are many different varieties of cultivated strawberries, with the variety depending on the region.
According to Wikipedia, in 2017 the largest strawberries harvests were in China, the US, Mexico, Egypt, Turkey, and Spain.14
Strawberries thrive in full sunlight. Loose and humus-rich soil is ideal, regardless of whether you are growing strawberries in a field, a vegetable patch, or in a pot. If the soil is heavy, you can mix some sand into it. Strawberries like moist soil, but cannot tolerate stagnant moisture.
To avoid pests in the soil, you should leave a four-year gap before using the same soil to grow strawberries. Vegetables in the Faboideae subfamily are a suitable preculture, for example, peas and beans. Strawberry plants are usually planted in late summer. Cold-stored strawberry plants (“frigo plants”) are young cuttings that are stored at –1 to –2 °C. This makes them easier to transport, and they can then be harvested in the same year that they are planted.
You can try to reduce the weeds growing around your strawberries by placing straw under the plants. This also helps to reduce the snails that grow there.
We recommend using organic fertilizer or ripe compost when growing strawberries. The plants should be fertilized for the first time 3 weeks after planting, then again in August or September after the harvest.
Strawberries are harvested at different times of the year, depending on the variety. Some strawberries are ready to be eaten in June, while others don’t ripen until September. The flavor of strawberries is most intense early in the morning. When you harvest strawberries, you should not remove their crowns (stems). If you do, you will create an opening through which water can enter the strawberry during washing and dilute its flavor.
You can propagate garden strawberries from cuttings. They are cut off with a spade and planted in a new patch of soil.
Strawberry seeds should be sown between January and March. The soil should only slightly cover the seeds because most strawberry varieties need light to germinate.
It takes about 3–6 weeks for strawberry seeds to germinate. During this time, the soil temperate must not fall below 16° C. When the plants are 2–3 cm tall, they can be separated and later planted outside.15
Wild strawberries are most easily confused with mock strawberries (Potentilla indica), also known as Indian strawberries. The fruits look similar, but you can tell them apart by their flowers. Mock strawberries have yellow flowers, in contrast to wild strawberries’ flowers, which are white. Mock strawberries are edible, but are not very flavorsome.
Musk strawberries (Fragaria moschata) are also similar to wild strawberries; however, they have somewhat larger fruits. They are also known as hautbois strawberries and are native to Europe. Their flowers are very similar to garden strawberries. Musk strawberries also have reddish skin, but they are sometimes slightly browner than garden strawberries. Musk strawberries were commonly grown in gardens in Europe. They have a slightly musk flavor.16
Strawberry fields provide bees and wild bees with a rich supply of nectar. Insect pollination is also beneficial for strawberries as it results in larger fruits and better yields. More uniform pollination allows plants to produce more auxin, a plant hormone that encourages plant development.17
Strawberries are of the genus Fragaria, in the rose family (Rosaceae). There are about 20 species of strawberries (Fragaria) and many subspecies, hybrids, and cultivars.
Strawberries are also known as cultivated strawberries, garden strawberries, wild strawberries, Virginia strawberries, beach strawberries, Chilean strawberries, scarlet strawberries, and woodland strawberries.