Wild strawberries, the strawberries of today's woodlands, have always been eaten by humans in Europe, Asia, and on the Pacific Ocean coastline, where they grew spontaneously.
The Romans were already familiar with them, particularly because of their medicinal and cosmetic properties. They were considered a panacea in the Middle Ages. Louis XIV later grew them in the greenhouse at Versailles. In the 18th century, Fontenelle, who died a centenarian, attributed his longevity to wild strawberries.
The strawberry only came into existence in the 18th century. Little did Amédée Frézier, native of Savoy and marine engineering officer, suspect that his name (a corruption of strawberry plant) would have a bearing on his destiny when he was sent to Chile in 1713. While he was walking in the city of Concepción, he noticed large white fruit on plants resembling those of wild strawberries. He took five seedlings back to France and gave them to Antoine de Jussieu, head gardener of the botanical gardens in Paris. After cultivating them, Jussieu sent seedlings to Brittany, where they grew very well.
It was in the botanical gardens at Brest where these Chilean wild strawberry plants were placed beside others, wild Virginia strawberries brought from America one hundred years before and which produced small red fruit.
They crossed naturally, giving birth to a third variety with large red fruit. This was the forerunner of all present-day strawberry varieties.
The new variety was grown at Plougastel.
However, the leading strawberry producer is California, USA. Spain is ranked second, followed by South Korea, Japan, Poland, Russia, France, Belgium, Ukraine, and the Netherlands.
Strawberries should be shiny and evenly colored with a green cap and stalk and pleasant fragrance, but without a trace of mold.
The riper the strawberry, the darker it becomes.
Fresh strawberries are sold in containers.
They are available frozen as whole fruit, halves, slices, or pieces – either compacted or loose. The addition of sugars (sucrose or others) or syrup is authorized.
When dried, they are generally sweetened.
Fresh wild strawberries are sold in small containers. They are available frozen and dried as whole fruit.
Both types are made into juice, coulis (frozen), jello, and preserves.
Strawberries are extremely delicate fruit, wild strawberries even more so. They should be used as soon as possible after purchase (and to plan for this accordingly). Otherwise, they can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days, although this harms their flavor.
Strawberries have a particularly high vitamin C content, as much as citrus. Their tiny seeds contain a sweet fiber: pectin. They also contain minerals and antioxidants.
Wild strawberries have the same nutritional properties as strawberries.
Both are a common source of allergies.
. From Israel: Yuval, Orly. Starting in December.
. From Spain, Morocco, Tunisia: Candonga, Camarosa, Sabrina. Starting in January.
. From France:
A number of varieties were developed in the 1980s in order to compete with imported strawberries. They are of higher quality: Ciflorette (March through July), Gariguette (March through June), Charlotte (mid-March through mid-November), Pajaro (April through May), Cigaline (April through late May), round (different varieties mid-March through mid-November), Mara des bois (mid-July through October). They are grown in the ground or hydroponically.
Fraises du Périgord (Gariguette, Cirafine, Darselect, Elsanta, Mara des bois, Seascape, Cigaline) have PGI (protected geographical indication) status: the containers are numbered to their ensure traceability. Late April through late October.
The most widely grown varieties in North America are Agathe (Florida), Camarosa, Chandler, Virginia strawberry, and Galante.
- Wild strawberries
Uncultivated wild strawberries are picked in the forests in June and July, and in the mountains in August and September.
Cultivated wild strawberries are produced almost all year round, either from Spain (where they are grown organically in the ground, Arzagot brand, October through late June) or from small local producers.