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Strawberry

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Now there are other berries in this world but admit it, we’re the best - sweet, succulent, easy to eat - no other berry is as good as us. It’s true that we’re similar to raspberries and blackberries, but we think we’re better than those guys. Let me tell you more about us.

We’re 2-5cm long, soft, red, plump and heart-shaped. We consist of a cluster of small fruits around the fruit stem; each single fruit having a seed surrounded by red flesh. Our green stem and green star-like calyx are left on when we’re harvested.

Availability
We’re available all year round with our peak being from November to February.

Did you know?
• Did you know that on average there are 200 seeds on each on us
• We’re not really a berry but a member of the rose family and the real fruits are actually the tiny yellow seeds on our outsides
• We grow wild all over Europe and have been cultivated for the last 700 years. Cultivated varieties have more sugar than our wild cousins.

Varieties
While we’re not sold at retail by variety, we do come in several different types. The most popular being Selva, Pojaro and Parkers.

Why Strawberries Are Good To Eat
• We’re an excellent source of vitamin C and just 100g has a whole day’s supply.
• The small seeds embedded in our skin provide a good source of dietary fibre
• We’re also a good source of folate (one of the B vitamins)
• Our natural sweetness comes from the sugars fructose and glucose.
• 100g has 90kJ.

How They are Grown and Harvested
Although our parent plant usually grows over the ground, they’re mainly cultivated commercially on trellises, to make harvesting easier. We prefer a temperate climate and can grow in a wide range of soils. Our parent plant is dormant in winter and this is generally the best time to plant it as its roots will then have plenty of time to grow before spring.

It’s a small plant with a crown of dark green leaves each of which has three small leaflets with saw-like edges. Runners, or long stems, grow from the crown, which send down roots when they touch the ground and a new plant develops. It’s white flowers are fertilised by bees and then produce us. It is becoming very popular to grow us hydroponically these days (that is grown in a nutrient solution rather than in soil).

We’re hand picked because we all ripen at different times and are delicate and easily bruised. Why not take a trip to a strawberry farm and pick some of us for yourself.

Choosing Strawberries
Select those of us which are plump, bright and even-coloured. Flavour varies with variety and ripeness.

How to Keep Strawberries
Remove us from the punnet. Place us unwashed in a single layer on paper towel on a plate. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 3 days.

Prime Growing Areas

History of Strawberries
We’re the result of selective breeding which started around 1714 when a French naval officer found a large flowering strawberry plant in Chile. Strawberries were then sent to a French horticultural centre where, by chance, the Chilean strawberry crossed with a North American species. The result was the development of the pineapple strawberry from which we modern, large-fruited strawberries can be traced.

Other wild strawberries grow in Europe and the Americas. These wild strawberries are often edible but do not grow as large or have the same flavour as we modern hybrids.

We were grown commercially in Cumberland, New South Wales in 1920. In the 1940’s strawberries were affected by various disease Australia-wide and almost no strawberries were available until the late 1960’s. Now we’re one of the more popular fruits and can be found growing in most states around Australia.

Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Strawberries
Wash and hull us by removing our green stem on top, but only when ready to use us. A little sugar sprinkled over us an hour before eating is believed to bring out our best flavour.

Normally eaten raw we can be added to fruit salads, fruit punch, cheese and fruit platters, sorbets, ice creams, tarts, cakes, sauces, crepes, waffles or served over breakfast cereal. Cooked, we can be added to stewed fruits or made into jam.

Try some of these strawberry ideas (strawberry recipes):

Strawberry and Blueberry Spectacular
For a stunning looking dessert, simply mix fresh strawberries with ripe fresh blueberries and serve in a large glass bowl to show off the great colours. For extra pizzazz serve fruit in tall glasses and pour over lemonade (for kids) or champagne (for adults) just before serving.

Strawberry Mascarpone
Wash and hull 2 punnets of strawberries. Mix together 175g mascarpone flavoured with a little honey or icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence. Add 1/4 cup grated chocolate. Divide strawberries into 4 glass bowls and top with mascarpone sprinkled with chopped pistachio.

Chocolate Strawberries
Melt 125g and 30g Copha (vegetable shortening) in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Wash 1 punnet of strawberries and pat dry with paper towel. Hold each strawberry by the stem and carefully dip 2/3 of the strawberry into chocolate. Place on a sheet of non-stick baking paper or foil and refrigerate until set.

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