21.6.10

The Wild Strawberry - Queen of the Wild Fruits

Wild Strawberries? Yes they exist and even more good news, they are even better than garden strawberries.

So first a little history lesson. The great British garden Strawberry is a hybrid of an imported giant from the Americas that was brought here in the 17th and 18th century. In fact the only Strawberry known to all Europeans was the Wild Strawberry before this time.

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The Wild Strawberry is rare and difficult to find. But when you do, it is very easy to identify. This low growing perennial has deeply veined and serrated leaves, the flowers appear from April to July and have 5 white petals that appear in clusters. The fruits are small and bright red when ripe with a perfect coating of little seeds distributed evenly over the soft red skin of the fruit which appears June to August. The Wild Strawberry plant looks like a smaller wirey version of the cultivated Strawberry.

Wild Strawberry plants can be found in Woodland to Grassland and are said to prefer Chalky soils.

The name Strawberry was perceived to have come from the bedding of straw sometimes placed underneath the ripening Strawberries to prevent them touching the ground and stop slugs eating the juicy fruits.. However beneficial this tip, this isn’t the reason for the name. The Anglo-Saxon word ‘Streow’ from which the modern English ‘Straw’ is derived from is where the actual name comes from. ‘To Streow’ describes the way that the Strawberries send out their many runners in all directions to set new plants. If you are lucky enough to find some Wild Strawberry plants it is this ‘Streow’ing’ that you can take advantage of. By planting these runners and allowing them to take root you can transplant these promiscuous plants into your own garden.

So, the flavour… Wild Strawberries are exquisite. They are small, sweet and they have a strawberry perfume that lingers in the mouth and is only cut by a slight tartness.

If they were available in the shops, they would be very expensive as a plant does not yield many fruits, the fruits are small and the flavour is, well more adult than that of a garden Strawberry. Please don’t think that I am knocking the Garden Strawberry, there is nothing better than one of your own freshly picked and perfectly ripe garden Strawberries. The difference between the two is that they are simply.. Different! Both are lovely in their own ways.

I could now go into the many things that you can do with Wild Strawberries if you were to happen upon a glut for example you could make and amazing Jam, if you had other soft Wild Fruits you could make an stunning Wild Summer pudding or and this is the most likely, the Strawberries will never make it back to your kitchen as they will be eaten where you find them.

The Wild Strawberry is one of those luxury Wild foods that is only available to the deserved, those who care enough to spend the time and try to find them!

Enjoy the hunt and enjoy the eating more!

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