What’s in a Name?
By Mark Mulcahy
The other day I got to thinking… I understand why a blackberry is called a blackberry. Or a blueberry, a blueberry but why are strawberries, strawberries?
Botanically speaking, Blackberries, Raspberries and Strawberries are not even berries at all. A berry is a fruit that develops from a single ovary and a single flower. So technically, grapes, kiwis, and bananas are berries and blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are clumps of tiny individual fruits that grew together. Surprised?
The name is believed to have come from several places. One idea is that the name represents the plant’s runners, which in ancient times were said to have been “strawed” or strewn over the ground. Or it could be because they grow so well on beds of straw. Streoberie was the common Anglo Saxon name for what we call strawberries until 1538. It was then that we changed the name, but again what if some one would have named them from their shape? They could have been known as heart berries. This wouldn’t have been so far fetched since they have been a symbol of love for centuries. Folklore suggests that strawberries were considered sacred to Frigg the northern goddess of love. And since we are talking love, berries and folklore, legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with someone you are attracted to, you will fall in love with each other. Whatever your love interest, Americans love strawberries! A whopping 94% of households in the U.S. consume strawberries. And while I am a romantic, love history and geek out on these types of interesting facts, I’d rather spend my time picking and eating fresh, plump, ripe, juicy, organic strawberries this time of year because its June, and Melissa’s organic strawberries are in full swing and oh so tasty! Tasty and good for you too!
Strawberries have been shown to be a good source of vitamin C, quercetin, and ellagic acid. All which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial in strengthening our immune systems. 8 medium size strawberries contain 96mg of vitamin C, which is more than enough to supply the daily RDA for men (90mg) and women (75mg) to maintain good immune function.
So how do you make sure you are getting the best value from your berries? Well, first look for Melissa’s Organic Strawberries then look for bright red berries with fresh green caps or “calyx” on top. Then make sure there are no signs of mold growth. If one berry is molded, mold spores can travel throughout the entire
package and you won’t be happy when you get them home. Strawberries are best eaten as soon after purchasing as possible. But, if you need to store them, keep your unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most. They should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours, as they will break down quicker. Furthermore, do not wash berries until ready to use. When you’re ready to eat them, place your berries in a colander and rinse under cold running water, but don’t let them linger in the water too long, as they will lose color and flavor. Once washed, remove the calyx with a paring knife without removing any of the fruit. Why wait to take off the top, you may ask? The answer is simple. When you remove the caps you tear cells in the berries, activating ascorbic acid oxidase, an enzyme that destroys Vitamin C.
With organic berries being available nearly year round, do you ever wonder where these remarkable berries grow? Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada. The majority of the supply comes from California, which accounts for an amazing 75 percent of the nation’s strawberry crop. This is due to California’s nearly 12 month growing season. The Golden state produces an amazing one billion pounds of strawberries each year – now that’s a lot of berries! California’s blessed with a temperate climate and ideal soil conditions for strawberry growing. Can you imagine a growing region spreading over 500 miles? That’s exactly how large of an area California has dedicated to strawberry production: from the southern coast of San Diego to as far north as Monterey. The season starts in early January in the areas furthest south, with a peak of supply in April, and works its way up north. The Monterey area starts about April with a peak in May and June but continues through November. Bring on the Streoberie’s!
So the next time you are sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl full of these flavorful red jewels or dipping them into chocolate, stop and think for a moment – imagine how it might feel to take a tasty journey up the California coast. Heck, you may even fall in love!