Fresh fruits conquer the stores every summer, mostly eaten raw or with sugar and whipped cream. All year round, however, we can enjoy their flavor in baked goods, ice cream, juices, and shakes. We will not elaborate on their color or taste - everyone knows very well what strawberries are and how good they taste. However, we want to introduce their undoubted health benefits, history, and the changes in their cultivation in recent years.
The first strawberries were bred in France in the 1850s. They were created by crossing two species of wild strawberries.
Due to their size, these creations quickly displaced the common strawberry, which people had eaten since probably earlier than the Stone Age.
They are perennial plants growing to a height of 15 - 45 cm.
There are more than 600 varieties of strawberries, but only more than a dozen gained popularity.
Before the creation of strawberries, people grew wild strawberries in their backyard gardens.
Strawberries gained popularity in the 14th century when they found their way into royal and monastery gardens.
Strawberries with whipped cream were introduced by Thomas Wolsey, a 16th-century Catholic bishop.
He invented and prepared this dish for Henry VIII - the King of England - and his court.
The red fleshy part of the plant is not its fruit. It is the tiny nuts on the strawberry's surface.
There can be about two hundred of them on the surface of one strawberry.
Strawberries have beneficial effects on the human body.
They raise the "good" cholesterol level (HDL), lower blood pressure, and reduce cancer risk. In addition, strawberries are rich in polyphenols, presenting strong antioxidant activity.
Strawberries are harvested between 4 and 6 weeks after flowering.
Only those entirely red are harvested, and the process is repeated every three days for about three weeks.
Until recently, they were harvested exclusively by hand, although rapidly advancing automatization and robotization constantly change this process.
Special plantations are being created in which a unique algorithm identifies the ripeness of the fruit and decides whether the fruit should be picked. If it is ripe enough, a robotic arm gently plucks the strawberry without damaging the plant.
According to nutritionists' recommendations, eight strawberries should be eaten daily to keep the body healthy.
Due to the presence of specific proteins, strawberries can be allergenic, especially for children.
Symptoms that can occur after eating strawberries include swelling of the tongue and lips and burning in the mouth, swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rashes and itching.
It is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers to consume strawberries.
Doing so can cause allergic reactions in newborns.
The glycemic index of a strawberry is 25.
Research suggests that a diet rich in plenty of low-glycemic index foods may benefit weight control and reduce the incidence of obesity-related diseases. Strawberries are also low in calories but sweet in taste, thus, they can be consumed as a sweet snack. They are recommended in the diet of people diagnosed with diabetes.
They are a rich source of vitamin C, with as much as 66 mg of it in 100 grams.
It represents about 80% of the daily requirement for this vitamin. It also contains small amounts of vitamins B2 and B6.
The fruit consists of 90% water, so it is low in calories.
100 g of strawberries contain only 33 kcal, 7.6 g of carbohydrates, 0.7 g of protein, and 0.4 g of fat.
They contain considerable amounts of copper and manganese.
In addition, iodine, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and potassium can also be found in small amounts in the strawberry fruit.
A record-size strawberry was grown in 2015 by Koji Nakao, a farmer from Fukuoka, Japan.
The fruit measured 12 x 8 cm and had a circumference of about 30 cm. The variety from which this giant was bred is called Amaou.
China is the largest producer of strawberries.
They produce 3.2 million tons of this fruit annually. Global strawberry production is 9 million tons, of which China produces about 40%. The United States ranks second, followed by Mexico, Egypt, Turkey and Spain.