Berrylicious

Strawberry love!! No matter your age, a strawberry will bring a smile to your face. Read on about these simple delights. 

Red, ripe and delicious.  That’s my take on strawberries – and I’m sure you’ll agree.  This time of year, the fresh berries are SOOOOO good, I can’t get enough of them. On cereal – yep, ice cream – yep (I have to admit I love Dairy Queens strawberry topping!), fruit trays – yep, or just one at a time. I’m not a big strawberry ice cream guy – prefer the berries on top of vanilla, (but I for sure won’t push it away).  One of my favorites is strawberries tucked inside angel food cake with whipped cream icing – creamy on the outside, yummy berries inside – hard to stop at one piece. Remember strawberries are also wonderful in any number of adult beverages.  I did a little digging on the history and info on berries, plus threw in some production videos and a few tunes to put in the right Friday mindset.  If you have a nice recipe, be sure to share (skowalski@khtheat.com).

Beatles
Harvesting
D. Carter

Strawberry Moon

The strawberry is a member of the rose family, with the most common varieties being a hybrid of the wild Virginia strawberry (native to North America) and a Chilean variety. The plant produces succulent, red, conical fruit from tiny white flowers, and sends out runners to propagate.

Although they have been around for thousands of years, strawberries were not actively cultivated until the Renaissance period in Europe.  The plants can last for five to six with careful cultivation, but most farmers use them as an annual crop, replanting yearly. Strawberries are social plants, requiring both a male and a female to produce fruit. Crops take eight to 14 months to mature.

Strawberries are among the first fruit to ripen in the Northeast. The flower buds formed last fall are tucked away under a layer of straw for the winter. Then an early-spring heat wave pushes the plants along, making the flowers open early.  Some growers keep busy protecting them from frost on cold nights, using sprinklers to form ice, which as funny as it sounds, gives off heat when it forms.

The health benefits of strawberry consumption include antioxidants, folate, potassium, vitamin C and fiber. This is part of the reason why per capita consumption of strawberries has increased steadily since 1970, from just less than 3 pounds to over 6 pounds today. The proportion of fresh vs. frozen has also increased during this period.

Not that long ago commercial strawberry production didn’t even exist.  True, the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid did mention the strawberry way back in the first century A.D., but they referenced it as an ornamental, not as a food.  Wild strawberries have been eaten by people around the world since ancient times, but not in large quantities since the fruits were small or tough or lacked flavor.

By the 1300’s the strawberry was in cultivation in Europe, when the French began transplanting the wood strawberry (Fragaria vesca) from the wilderness to the garden.  At the end of the 1500’s the musky strawberry (Fragaria moschata) was also being cultivated in European gardens.

In the 1600’s, the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) of North America reached Europe. The spread of this new relatively hardy species was very gradual, and it remained little appreciated until the end of the 1700’s and early 1800’s when it was popular in England. At that time, English gardeners worked to raise new varieties from seed, increasing the number of varieties from three to nearly thirty.

Meanwhile, a French spy brought the Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) from Chile to France in 1714. This species of strawberry had a quality the others lacked: size.  It had fewer but larger flowers and gave rise to larger fruit. However, the Chilean strawberry was not hardy and was difficult to grow inland, away from mild coastal climates.

These two New World species of strawberries were crossed in Europe, giving rise to the modern strawberry, Fragaria ananassa. It was the French who first accidentally pollinated the Chilean strawberry with the Virginia strawberry when pistillate Chilean plants were inter-planted with staminate Virginian plants and natural hybrids were made. The English did most of the early breeding work to develop the ancestors of the varieties we enjoy today.  All modern strawberry varieties have descended from this crossing of Virginia and Chilean strawberries.

‘Hovey’ was the name of the first American strawberry variety that resulted from a planned cross, and it is an ancestor of most modern varieties.  It was developed by Charles Hovey, a nurseryman in Cambridge, MA, in 1834.  ‘Wilson’ was originated in 1851 by James Wilson who selected it from a cross of ‘Hovey’ grown with other varieties. This variety was more productive, firmer and hardier than any other large-fruited variety and could be grown on nearly any soil. It was also perfect-flowered, so it could be grown by itself without another variety for pollination. Wilson changed the strawberry into a major crop grown all across the continent; the strawberry industry soon increased 50-fold, to one hundred thousand acres.

About 1909 the variety ‘Howard 17’ was introduced by E.C. Howard of Belchertown, MA.  It had tolerance to leaf spot, leaf scorch and virus diseases and it formed many crowns with early flower bud initiation. For decades it was important for commercial use and breeding.

Worldwide 8,885,028 tons of strawberry are produced per year.  China is the largest strawberry producer in the world with 3,221,557 tons production per year, followed by the United States of America with 1,021,490 tons, and Mexico with 861,337 tons.   According to the USDA, the average American consumes approximately 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries per year.

New varieties

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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