Strawberries are the first fruit ready for picking in the spring. Peak season is from April to June, though you’ll find some parts of the country where strawberries ripen as late as November or as early as January. They’re grown in every state and are the most cultivated berry in the United States.
There’s nothing quite so refreshing as a bowl of these freshly picked berries. Whether for dessert or for breakfast, biting into a juicy strawberry is one of life’s simple pleasures. Dust them with sugar or drizzle with balsamic vinegar for a real treat. Try them with granola or in a salad. Strawberries are one of the world’s best-loved fruits, and for good reason.
In celebration of strawberry season, we’ve rounded up some trivia on America’s favorite berry:
1. Fun sized means more flavor. The smaller the strawberry, the more flavorful it will be. Bigger berries tend to be more watered down and thus a little less tasty. Steer clear of soft, shriveled berries with any white patches. The best-tasting strawberries are shiny, firm, and still have their green caps attached.
2. Plenty of variety. There are more than 600 types of strawberries in the U.S. alone! Each boasts a slightly different taste and appearance.
3. Heart on their sleeves. Strawberries are the only fruit that display their seeds on the outside.
4. Large extended family. As members of the Roseaceae family of flowering plants, strawberries are related to almonds, apples, cherries, and of course, roses.
5. Fruit of romance. In France, tradition says strawberries are an aphrodisiac. Throughout history, French newlyweds were served a soup made of strawberries, powdered sugar, thinned sour cream and borage.
6. California is strawberry central. Each year, California produces about 2 billion pounds of strawberries! If they were all laid out next to one another, all those strawberries would wrap around the world 15 times. The state dominates the strawberry market in the U.S., producing 80% of the country’s crop.
7. There’s a strawberry museum. It’s in Belgium, and it’s called Musėe de la Fraise. Once you’ve finished your tour, pick up some strawberry beer or jam at the gift shop.
8. Natural medicine. In Ancient Rome, strawberries were thought to cure kidney stones, sore throats, bad breath and depression. Today, studies show they reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Strawberries are loaded with potassium, folic acid, fiber, amino acids, and Vitamins K, C, and B6. Their high concentration of nitrate increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles.