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National Strawberry Day

Today we celebrate and enjoy strawberries! These red, early ripening fruits are not actually berries at all, but accessory fruit. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, and are perennial plants, growing back each spring. They have been eaten for thousands of years: in the Western Hemisphere, they were eaten by indigenous people prior to European exploration, while in the Eastern Hemisphere the ancient Romans ate them and thought they had many curative properties. However, it was not until the time of the European Renaissance that they were cultivated.

In the Americas, explorers and colonists came across a few types of strawberries. "Virginia strawberries" or "native American strawberries" were brought to Europe in the early seventeenth century. Another type, known as the "beach strawberry" or "Chilean strawberry," was prevalent in Central and South America, as well as along the Pacific coast. Some were brought to France in 1712. Eventually, the two types of strawberries were bred together, creating what was known as a "pine strawberry" or "pineapple strawberry."

One of the reasons that strawberries weren't cultivated in the United States for so long was because so many grew in the wild. Some people did have strawberry patches, however. In the early nineteenth century, some strawberry cultivation started in the United States. At that time, they were associated with luxury and were often served with cream. Cultivation became widespread in 1851, after James Wilson, a horticulturist from Albany, New York, came up with the "Wilson variety." Over 100,000 acres were under cultivation in the United States by the 1880s. Today strawberries are grown in all 50 states, with 75% of the crop coming from California.

They can be eaten plain, with cream, be made into jam, or be stored frozen in syrups. They can flavor ice cream or smoothies, or be used in sundaes or parfaits. They can also eaten in shortcake and in strawberry cream pie. Many of these strawberry treats are enjoyed at strawberry festivals, which have been popular in the United States since the 1850s.

How to Observe National Strawberry Day

Celebrate the day with all things strawberries!

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