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Strawberries are distinguished by their conical heart shape as well as the texture of their skin and their flavor. All varieties of strawberries have seeds on the skin rather than skin around the seed, which distinguishes them from a berry and a true fruit. The texture of any given strawberry is tender firm when ripe with varied levels of succulence. Leaner strawberries will have a semi cottony mouthfeel while sweeter varieties, with high sugar content, will create a more mouthwatering experience. Flavors also range anywhere from sweet-tart to overtly syrup-sweet.
Strawberries are available year-round.
Strawberries are botanically known as Fragaria x ananassa and are members of the Rosaceae family. Strawberries are not actually botanically classified as a berry, rather they are the greatly enlarged stem end of the plant's flower. There are hundreds of varieties of strawberries, each displaying unique attributes, growing capacities, flavor profiles, resistance to disease, size shape and coloring. Varieties are chosen based on the growing regions in which their greatest characteristics thrive.
Strawberries are versatile because of their varied sugar content and acidity. Wherever berries are called within a recipe, strawberries can easily be utilized. Strawberries can be used in a variety of preparations; sweet and savory, raw and cooked. They can be eaten fresh out of hand whole, sliced, pureed, cooked down into a compote, syrup or glaze and used within ice creams, gelatos, granitas, sorbets and cocktails. Complimentary pairings include, vanilla, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, watermelon, cream, yogurt, ginger, brown sugar, chiles, bacon, cheeses such as blue cheese, feta and chevre, and herbs such as basil, mint, lemon verbena, fennel and lavender.
There are species of strawberry native to temperature regions all around the world. Yet, it was the union of two species native to the Americas that gave us the garden strawberry, hence cultivated strawberries are actually a hybrid. Fragaria virginiana, native to North America, was taken from the New World to France in 1624. Fragaria chiloensis, a wild species of strawberry native to Chile, was also taken to France in 1712. Both species were widely grown in European gardens. Chance seedlings representing crosses between the two species resulted in the modern cultivated strawberry, Fragaria x ananassa. There are three types of modern strawberry cultivars: June-bearing, Everbearing and Day-neutral. June-bearing strawberries are harvested in June, Everbearing strawberries thrive in hotter climates, while Day-neutral strawberries do not respond to day length, rather they flower and fruit for about five months.