Often voted as the nation’s favourite, strawberries are one of the most widely consumed fruits in Britain. But aren’t strawberries berries I hear you say? No, due to their seeds being on the outside, strawberries are classified as an “accessory fruit”.
Read on for the ultimate guide on Strawberries, we cover how to pick them locally, how to grow them at home, the nutrition and health benefits as well as a tasty recipe idea!
It’s around this time of year that our strawberry cravings start to kick in and despite strawberry farmers concerns about the cancellation events like weddings, parties and of course Wimbledon, strawberry sales have sky-rocketed this summer as British consumers moved their shopping habits online.
Many growers have put this increase in demand down to consumers becoming more conscious about foods that are in season. As well as this, the scorching weather during the warmest spring for 80 years has delivered one of the juiciest crops in recent history!
Strawberry Picking – The perfect summer activity in Britain!
To get involved in a favourite British pastime this summer, simply search for “strawberry picking near me” “where to pick strawberries” followed by your county on your favourite search engine. Call ahead to double-check the availability, the opening hours and the prices!
Here are 5 of our strawberry-picking tips to help you:
1) Take a light container with a handle, most farms will provide you with baskets but you may be charged for them.
2) Don’t fill your container too deep, try to keep it 5 inches deep maximum, any more and you may bruise the fruits in the bottom of your container.
3) Plan for good weather, take a hat and wear plenty of sun lotion. As there may be some kneeling involved it can be worthwhile taking knee-pads if you have them available to you! Prefer to sit? Take a cushion!
4) Make sure you pick the ones with a full deep colour, where the tip is completely red all over. Picking them when partially ripe, then chucking them away is wasteful and the grower will lose out every time this happens!
5) Be mindful of where you step and be careful not to damage the strawberry plants.
Can’t get enough of strawberries and want to know how to grow your own at home? No problem we have tips for this also!
Strawberries are very easy to grow and kids love nothing more than to watch them develop!
You can pick up runners and young strawberry plants at most good garden centres. These plants like to be planted in full sun and protected from the wind. There’s no problem with planting them outdoors from late June until September. If you’ve opted to plant them later, simply remove the flowers in the first year this way the energy is used to develop a brilliant plant in the second year! A well-kept strawberry plant can produce fruit for around six years!
To grow them successfully at home, you’ll need a well-prepared strawberry planter or strawberry bed positioned in full sun. Within the bed or planter place well-rotted horse manure or compost.
Choose ‘ever-bearing’ strawberries, which fruit continually all summer, or choose some of the many different strawberry varieties that fruit in succession. This will give you a long season of delicious, juicy fruit from late May to autumn. The best strawberries to grow at home are ever-bearing ones, they will usually fruit all summer. Another method, though slightly more complex, would be to pick different types of strawberries that fruit one after the other. That way you get a really long season of great-tasting strawberries between the end of May right up until autumn.
You can bring on flowering and the fruit set by feeding your plants with tomato fertiliser (always follow the instructions) and water regularly, be sure to minimise wetting of ripening fruits as that causes grey mould. Finally, you will want to deter bugs, particularly snails and slugs that love strawberries nearly as much as we do. You can do so by placing straw around the plants as they begin to develop.
Once fruiting ends, cut off foliage about 5cm above the ground and give plants a good feed with a general-purpose fertiliser, this will encourage good growth for the following year’s crop.
After about three years the size and quality of the strawberries start to decline, once this starts to happen you should replace your plants.
Harvesting your strawberries!
Picking strawberries from your own crop at home is the same as if you were doing so at a farm, wait until the full tip is red, pinch the stalks with your finger and thumb and be mindful not to bruise the fruit.
Storing strawberries – how to keep them fresher for longer!
Strawberries will be best enjoyed straight after harvesting, even after a few hours the flavours deteriorate significantly. Get them in the fridge as soon as possible and they will stay lovely for 1 to 2 days.
If you want to enjoy your strawberries for even longer, store them in a Liebherr BioFresh compartment where they can be kept for up to 7 days.
Health Benefits of strawberries!
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese element which helps support a strong immune system.
The antioxidant components may also help to prevent cataracts which can lead to poor eyesight and even blindness as we get older. To keep your eyes healthy you need plenty of vitamin C to protect your eyes from harmful UV damage from the sun.
Widely regarded as a super-fruit, they also include a nice amount of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium which help to regulate blood pressure and improve heart health.
What’s not to love about strawberries! Every time you eat this juicy fruit you fight off wrinkles! Their vitamin C helps power the production of collagen which improves the elasticity of your skin.
Nutrition facts – what to know!
Because of the high water content of strawberries, they are extraordinarily low in carbs and despite their sweet taste, eating strawberries should not lead an increase in your blood sugar levels due to the low glycemic index, as such, they are considered safe for people with diabetes.
26% of carbs in strawberries are from Dietary fibres which help boost friendly bacteria and improve overall gut health. This can help those striving for weight-loss and ward off many nasty diseases.
It’s worth noting that not everyone can enjoy strawberries, unfortunately, some people are allergic and food-pollen allergies can be fairly common with young children.
Whether you grew them yourself, picked them at a local farm or grabbed them from the supermarket, why not impress your guests with this delicious yet simple recipe for bruschetta with strawberries and cherry tomatoes.
That’s our big guide to strawberries, let us know what you love about them? Will you be heading to a local farm to do some picking this summer? Will be trying our tips on how to grow them?