1 Strawberries are unique among fruit for having seeds on their exteriors, which is why botanists don’t consider them true berries.
2 Strawberries dipped in chocolate are not the best pairing, especially with some of the more fruit-forward artisanal chocolates, because you get this competing berry/acidity thing that’s not very complementary.
3 Native Americans in New England cultivated strawberries, which they called wuitahimneash, before the arrival of the first colonists.
4 Unless you like a bowl of sad mush, don’t rinse strawberries until right before using (best not to rinse them at all).
5 Conventionally farmed strawberries consistently land on the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the most pesticide residue.
6 In North America, June’s first full moon is referred to as the “Strawberry Moon,” a term from native Algonquin tribes anticipating ripening berries in the Great Lakes region.
7 If you want to get persnickety about it, strawberries are “aggregate accessory fruits” because each individual strawberry seed is an ovary and is technically a separate fruit.
8 Sometime Sonoma County resident Shuggie Otis penned the psychedelic-funk-folk confection “Strawberry Letter 23.” The Quincy Jones-produced Brothers Johnson’s cover of Shuggie’s only hit went to #5 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1977.
9 Strawberries are easy to grow, guaranteeing pristine, pesticide-free fruit straight from the plant.
10 Try topping a dish of macerated strawberries with a few grinds of black pepper. It’s surprisingly good.
11 The popular character Strawberry Shortcake was created by illustrator Muriel Fahrion in 1977 and initially appeared on American Greetings cards before being introduced in toy format, where she smelled nothing like real strawberries but nevertheless captured the hearts of millions of little girls.
12 Like most berries, strawberries do not ripen off the vine.
13 Strawberries must be hand-picked. In peak season, it’s done roughly once every three days.
14 In Europe, low-yield, flavor-packed Alpine strawberries beloved by French people and Martha Stewart are called fraises de bois. Some local farmers sell them. Ask nicely.
15 Strawberry plants produce “runners,” long tendrils of stems—adorably called “daughters” in strawberry parlance—that eventually put down roots and grow into mature plants. That’s why gardening authority Barbara Damrosch advises “some form of birth control.” To keep your strawberry patch from declining into fruitless ground cover, remove those runners.
16 In the freaky-deaky central panel of his massive “The Garden of Earthly Delights” triptych, Hieronymus Bosch repeatedly used strawberries as a symbol of sexual and sensual indulgence and innocence lost.
17 If you’re making strawberry jam, don’t trim off any white tips from your strawberries—they contain a higher concentration of pectin, which will help your jam set.
18 Strawberries grown for mass commercial distribution are bred for color, size, and keeping quality, which is why they are often crunchy, flavorless, and hollow.
19 To really concentrate the flavors of strawberries, toss them with some sugar, scatter them on a sheet pan, and roast them in a 400 degree F oven until they shrink down and give up some juice. These are really great with yogurt or panna cotta.
20 Roughly 500 years after Bosch, director Roman Polanski used strawberries as a seduction metaphor for the scene in his film Tess in which the scoundrel who eventually rapes (or seduces—it’s deliberately left hazy) poor Tess first tempts her with a very camera-ready fraise de bois.
21 Try topping a dish of macerated strawberries with good balsamic vinegar. Go crazy and try both black pepper and balsamic, perhaps incorporating a modest scoop of premium vanilla ice cream as a base.
22 Don’t let Bosch or Polanski deter you from eating strawberries or having sex. Strawberries are packed with anthocyanins, phenolic acids, ellagitannins and terpenoids, and thus help control inflammation. As for emotionally healthy and physically robust sex, science says that’s good for you, too, if you can get it.
— Sara Bir
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