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Strawberry

Fresh strawberries and cream, the image can never be erased from the mind of a 6 year old or a 60 year old. The delectable juiciness in the fruit alone is addictive making no excuse to be devoured gently and greedily at the same time. The beautiful colour attracts more than the eye and the combination of the red of the fruit and the green of the leaves make it celebratory thanks to its similarity to the much loved Christmas colours.

Origin of “Strawberry”
This summer fruit has a mystery attached to it when it comes to its existence in the English language.
It has a stronger identity in other European languages and is called “Fragola” in Italian, “Fresa” in Spanish and “Fraise” in French all derived from Latin’s “Fragaria vesca” meaning fragrant berry. In German is takes on a different form, “Erdbeer” meaning earth berry.

About 1000 years ago and long before the plant was cultivated in gardens, the word Strawberry is believed to have made its entry as “streawberige” into the English language. There is a theory that believes that the Old English “streawberige” is better translated as “strewnberry” which would be a description of the plant and its runners that grow in all directions. Another theory explains its links to the Indo- European root “ster-” meaning to “spread, that which is scattered.” Yet another theory explains the relation to the small seeds that are seen to cover the berry as they appear to look like chaff, an obsolete meaning of the word “straw”.

Strawberry Picking
Strawberry gathering or the more popular ‘picking’ began as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period. Today, strawberry picking is advertised in newspapers and on billboards when the crop is ready. The best way to find a strawberry patch that hasn’t been over picked is by word of mouth. You can find the red, plump and juicy fruit in abundance for you and your kids to go crazy over. This is how it usually works, when you arrive at a strawberry farm you will be assigned a row and its best to stick to that row so you don’t interfere with anyone else’s share of fun and berries. Squat on your knees, standing and bending over can give you a sore back, hold the strawberry in your hand and its stem between your index finger and thumb. With a slight twist you have picked your first strawberry.

Strawberries bruise easily, so extra care has to be taken to see that you don’t squeeze too many into one hand, maybe four and then put them down in the basket provided. Piling too many in one basket can also damage them. Once you are done the farm owner will weigh them and charge you by the pound or quart.

Freeze them to last you the entire year, by rinsing them off well and then cutting off the cap. Slice them into halves if they are too big, put them into a freezer bag and into the freezer. If you want to make the strawberries into preserves or jams that’s a good idea too.

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