A juicy edible fruit produced by various plants native to the temperate zones of the Old and New World. Strawberries belong to the genus Fragaria, a member of the Rose family. The fruits vary in both size and color from whitish or yellowish to the more familiar red. Some strawberries are cultivated, others wild; but the wild ones are perhaps the most fragrant of all fruits, and preferred by the Europeans although they have cultivated them in
their gardens since the early 14th century.
The French, English and American horticulturists are the ones that cultivated the strawberry that we are familiar with today, in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are the results of the cross breeding of the wild strawberry of the Eastern Seaboard, (F. virginiana) and taken to Europe in the 17th century with a kind of strawberry found in Chile (F. chiloensis) taken to Europe in the early 18th century. In the mid-19th century descendants of these hybrids were reimported
into the United States, began being further developed and cultivated on a large scale.
Long before the white people came to this continent, the Indians made delicious beverages from the strawberries. Strawberry wine was a favorite (mine too...LOL) and athe Iroquois' strawberry drink made with crushed strawberries and water is still being drunk. Roger Williams reported another early use of the berry: "The Indians bruise them in a Morter, and mixe them with meale and make Strawberry bread."
Fresh strawberries are now available all year round in large cities. Peak months are May and June. Frozen strawberries packed in water, syrup or plain, sliced or whole are readily available. Canned strawberries are limited in quantity. Strawberry jam (the most popular of all jams), preserves, syrups, gelatin desserts and pie filling are also always available.
Select fresh berries that are bright, fresh, plump, well shaped and solid in color. The caps should still be attached.