It’s that time of year when strawberries take front and center — at U-Pick farms, grocery stores, farmers markets and in the garden.
The fruit is easy to find here, because of where we live — we’re just a short drive away from Plant City — the winter strawberry capital of the world.
The popularity of strawberries in our area may have made you curious about how the berries got their name.
Blueberries and blackberries have obvious names.
So, where did the name strawberry come from?
There are a few theories.
One theory is based on the fact that on the surface it appears that pieces of straw were lodged into them.
Another thought is that that name came from the role that straw plays when they are stored — to keep them from bruising, or when they are covered with straw during winter.
A third explanation is that vendors would string them through the stem of straw for sale at markets.
But, naysayers shoot down those theories, insisting that the word “strawberry” was in use long before strawberries were harvested and sold at markets.
Indeed, strawberries are featured in literature and artwork dating back several centuries. Ancient Romans used them for medicinal purposes, and the fruit was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love — because of its heart shape and red color.
So, here’s another potential explanation: The plant’s runners lay in various directions in strawberry fields, making the strawberries look like they are “strewn” over the ground, according to Farmer’s Almanac. So, the word strawberry resulted from the mingling of the words strewn and berry.
Regardless of where it gets its name, it is a misnomer because botanically, a strawberry isn’t even technically a berry. A berry has its seeds on the inside, not on the outside.
In fact, it’s considered an aggregate fruit — but doesn’t ‘berry’ just sound better?
We will probably never know with complete certainty the origins of the name, but we do know that, like any fruit, strawberries provide health benefits.
They provide Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, antioxidants and folate.
Their popularity has grown over the years, from per capita consumption of 3 pounds in the 1970s to 6 pounds a year now, according to University of Vermont Extension.
Strawberries rank No. 5, in terms of the amount of the fruit consumed, by weight, in the United States. The top four are bananas, apples, oranges and grapes.
And, while most of us think of strawberries as a red fruit there is a new variety of the fruit that’s actually white.
The white strawberries that exist in nature are not as flavorful like the ones bred for consumption.
University of Florida researchers have helped to develop a new variety of white strawberries.
White strawberries have been popular in Japan for many years, and the seeds from Japan were used in the breeding process of the new U.S. variety.
The U.S. variety of the white strawberry is being test-marketed now, and is expected to be available in U.S. markets by 2022.
This new variety doesn’t have a name yet, but is likely to be named pineberry because it has a pineapple aroma, and is less acidic and sweeter than red ones.
Be sure to give it a try when it becomes available.
I was lucky to sample some while at a meeting at the UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center this time last year; I’m looking forward to when it becomes readily available next year.
In the meantime, we will still enjoy the red strawberries — and continue the debate the origins of its name.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County.
Wash and hull 1 quart of ripe berries.
Slice berries and add 1/3 cup sugar. Stir.
The berries will form a syrup, as you prepare the biscuits.
- 2 cups flour
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup shortening
- 2/3 cup milk
Combine dry ingredients.
Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles small peas.
Drop biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes to 12 minutes.
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
Whip ingredients to stiff peaks
To assemble shortcake
Split biscuits lengthwise.
Top with strawberry topping.
Add whipped cream (either made from scratch or a purchased topping).
Published March 03, 2021