Strawberries are very popular berries cultivated in most countries with mild climate, but also in cooler subtropical regions. They owe their popularity mostly to their exceptional, sweet taste. Strawberry fruits grow on shrubs which are between 15 and 45 cm tall, and which have white, five petal flowers. Up to this day, fruit growers have managed to create many cultivars of this unusual plant.
Cultivation of strawberries
Despite the worldwide popularity of strawberries, probably not many people know that their creation was, in fact a result of a coincidence. For the first time they bloomed in one of Dutch botanical gardens near Amsterdam in the middle of the 18th century, as an effect of crossing of two wild, American species: the Chilean strawberry and the Virginia strawberry. Most probably, it resulted from planting two different shrub species, which were brought from the American continent, next to each other.
Throughout centuries strawberries have conquered many world markets. Currently the USA is the biggest producer of strawberries, where in the last five years, the average, annual yield of this fruit reached 1100 thousand tons. Spain, Russia and Turkey are also in the lead. Poland, with its production level of 200 thousand tons per year, takes the seventh position in the world.
Strawberries come in many different cultivars. The following are among the most popular ones:
- cultivars which produce fruits several times a year: Capri, Elsinore, Selva, Albion, Everest, Promise;
- very early varieties: Clery, Honeoye;
- early ones: axton’s Utylity, Królowa Luiza, Senga Precosa, Sonata, Sensation (pineapple flavoured);
- mid-season cultivars: Elsanta, Delicatesse, Dukat (Polish variety) and Senga Sengana;
- medium-late season: Marmolada;
- late season: Madame Moutot, Elista, Louis Gauthier.
Truskawka Kaszubska (Eng. Kashubian strawberry), also known as kaszëbskô malëna is a unique cultivar of this type of berry. This term is applied to strawberries cultivated in Kaszuby - the northern region of Poland. In 2009, the European Commission registered “Truskawka Kaszubska” as protected geographical indication. Experts recognised that this cultivar, due to certain properties of soils and climate of Kaszuby is characterised by distinctive aroma properties. The European Commission's Regulation defines the area on which cultivation of Truskawka Kaszubska is allowed. Also, the strict quality procedures have been introduced to its production.
Strawberries in kitchen
Universality of strawberries surely influenced their popularity. It's because they can be both eaten raw or in a form of preserves. They also don't lose their unusual properties after freezing. What's interesting, strawberry fruits are not only used to produce preserves such as jams, compotes and frozen products. Dried leaves of strawberry shrubs can also be used to prepare tea infusions. However, desserts still remain the most popular culinary use for strawberries. Thanks to the unique taste of strawberries, it is possible to enhance taste of many cakes, desserts or smoothies.
Other uses for strawberries
Strawberry fruits are also used in cosmetology, where they serve as ingredients of many beauty products dedicated, among others, for dry or peeling skin. Vitamins and minerals contained in strawberries have impact on good condition of skin and hair. Because of their distinct and intensive aroma, strawberries are often added to cosmetics as aromatic composition, or they are used for aromatherapy. Their flesh and juice are used for production of home-made face masks, and natural scrubs.