Strawberries, spring delight

Health Fitness

Call them what you want, strawberries by any other name are still strawberries. They are grown all over the world, but no country or state probably grows them more than California. The US is by far the world’s largest producer of strawberries, producing more than twice as much as any other country. While strawberry season in most of the US is spring and summer, the entire year can be considered strawberry season in California. Strawberries grow in Southern California from north of San Diego to Monterey Bay, and the growing season spans every month of the year.

Strawberries originally got their name because straw was placed around the plants so that the fragile fruit would not rot from sitting in wet soil. Today, plastic has replaced straw. In fact, the way strawberries are grown is called plasticulture. The rows or furrows are covered with plastic and then holes are made in the plastic to insert and plant the runner from which the Strawberries grow. When the plants finish producing for the season, they are usually plowed up to return their nutrients to the soil. It has been found that it is more productive to plant new runners each year than to try to maintain the plants year after year.

In California, when one crop has finished producing, another is ready to take over. Types of strawberries that are common in California are Gaviota, Seascape, Camarosa, Albion, and Ventanas. Seagulls are larger berries and Seascape is a small berry that is very sweet and tastes similar to wild strawberries found in France.

Unlike blueberries, which are a single berry, strawberries are actually made up of many berries. Each seed is part of a berry or the reproductive organ of the plant. Fresh strawberries can be found in the market, but the freshest ones are those that are bought directly from the growers. They are usually picked up the same day they are sold. This is an important element as strawberries do not last long once they ripen and are almost always picked when ripe. If they’re not ripe when picked, they won’t taste very good, as with strawberries, the ripening process doesn’t continue once they’re picked. California strawberries are shipped worldwide. When we were in Thailand, we found California Driscoll Strawberries at a specialty store in Pattaya, a beach resort outside of Bangkok.

There are many uses for strawberries, including simply eating them out of hand. Strawberries are good on cereal or with cream, which is a favorite at Wimbledon. They are used to make ice cream, milkshakes, pies, pies, jams and jellies, pancake syrup, and everyone’s favorite strawberry shortcake. A favorite on Valentine’s Day is to use extra-large strawberries with the stems still on for dipping in melted chocolate.

Strawberries are fragile and washing them is not the best way to maintain their integrity. The best way to clean them is to simply dry them with a damp paper towel. If you feel like you have to wash them, spray them lightly with cold water and immediately dry them gently with a paper towel. If you are just eating them uncontrollably like any other fruit, you can leave the stem and leaves, eat the fruit, then throw away the stem and leaves. The stem and leaves of strawberries are called the hull. To use them in salads or pastries, remove the stem. The best way to remove the stem is to twist and pull or use the tip of a small paring knife to cut through the hull.

It doesn’t matter how you like to eat or serve strawberries. The only thing that matters is that you and the people you serve enjoy them.

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