Strawberry

Fragaria ananassa

Herbs gallery - Strawberry

Common names

  • Strawberry

For millions of years, strawberries have grown in the wild in places having temperate climatic conditions all over the world. However, strawberries have neither been domesticated as well as cultivated for that many years, but still it goes back to several hundred years.

It is worth mentioning here that the cultivation of strawberries did not start or was not taken up seriously prior to the 18th century. According to available records, when a French engineer was deputed to Chile and Peru in 1714 with a view to keep an eye on the activities of the Spanish settlers there, he noticed a variety of strawberry that is indigenous to this region in South America was a great deal larger in comparison to those cultivated in Europe. On his way back to France, this engineer carried several samples to his country and they were later cultivated. Initially, these strawberry plant samples did not thrive well, but they began to flourish only after a cross-breeding between the South American variety and a species of strawberries from the nearby North America were planted in an adjacent field. The consequence was the development of a crossbreed strawberry species that was not only larger, more succulent and sweet, but a variety whose popularity also grew rapidly among the Europeans.

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In those days, similar to various other consumable fruits, strawberry was also an extravagant item, which only the rich and noble were entitled to take delight in. This prevailed even during the middle of the 19th century. However, when the railways came into existence and further quick modes of transportation were set up, it was possible to ship strawberries to distant lands and to be enjoyed by a growing number of people. In contemporary times, using an everyday and an amateurish description for the term 'berry', over the years, the strawberry has turned out to be one of the most favourable berry fruits found anywhere in the world. Describing it technically and in scientific jargon, this characteristic would actually be associated with bananas, as their seed as well as the pulp are produced from a solitary ovary, and this feature is generally made use of to differentiate berry and non-berry fruits. The fact remains that when you think of it from the technical and scientific point of view, strawberries cannot be called berries in any manner. Instead, they are better known as 'accessory fruits' wherein the scrumptious matter which we consume is not straight away fashioned in the ovary. However, for majority of the people, in spite of such technical and scientific characteristics, strawberries are considered to be among the best and most popular berries found anywhere in the world any time.

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Parts used

Berries, leaves.

Uses

It has been found that the basic causes for nearly all the problems related to our eyes are the detrimental free radicals, in addition to shortage of specific nourishments in our body. As we become aged and the absence of nutrients that protect us from various ailments and health conditions increases, the detrimental oxidants or free radicals take a heavy toll on our eyes and cause immense harm to them, for instance relapse of the optical nerves, desiccation of our eyes, flaws in the eyesight, macular degeneration and other problems which make our eyes vulnerable to contagions. Strawberries enclose several antioxidants, such as flavonoids, vitamin C, elagic acid and phenolic phytochemicals, which not only scavenge the free radicals, but also facilitate in preventing such conditions considerably. Another aspect that may also cause considerable harm to our eyes is the internal pressure of our eyes, also known as ocular pressure. Any abnormal change in the ocular pressure is harmful for our eyes and, in this case also, strawberries are helpful since they enclose the vital mineral potassium, which facilitates in sustaining a normal pressure within the eyes.

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It may be noted that harmful consequences of the free radicals also include the deterioration of the condition of our muscles and tissues deteriorate; desiccation of the body fluid or lubricant that facilitates mobility of the joints and the build up of toxic and waste substances and acids, for instance, uric acid. Such ill effects of the harmful free radicals are basically liable for development of health conditions like gout and arthritis. However, consuming strawberries, which are packed with antioxidants and detoxifiers, has the aptitude to keep away from such health problems perpetually. In India there is a well-known adage that says consumption of any fruit will help to get rid of the joint rusts and this is especially true in the case of strawberries.

Strawberries possess several flavonoids that have wonderful anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties, including folate, vitamin C, quercetin, anthocyanin and kaempferol, and together effectively combat tumour and cancer. It has been found that daily consumption of strawberries has outstandingly decreased the development of the cancerous cells.

It has been widely observed that as people grow older their memory becomes weaker and they have a propensity to suffer from a lack of control over their actions, limbs and others. This is primarily owing to the brain and the nervous system becoming aged. In effect, the harmful free radicals, which are very much liable for the aging process, have an unfavourable impact on these body systems. Owing to these free radicals, the tissues of the brain begin to deteriorate and the nerves become feebler. In such cases, consumption of strawberries may well help you to overcome these problems. Strawberries contain antioxidants like vitamin C and phytochemicals that help in counteracting the free radicals and also to invigorate the systems. In addition, strawberries are also packed with iodine, which is extremely effective for the appropriate working of the nervous system as well as the brain. Strawberries also contain a rich amount of potassium and magnesium - the two minerals that are useful in bringing down hypertension owing to presence of excessive amounts of sodium in the body.

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Together the elevated levels of fiber, absence of fats, folate and rich content of antioxidants, for instance, vitamin C and the phytochemicals, especially flavonoids, present in strawberries, form a perfect package for protecting as well as encouraging the health of the cardiovascular system. Strawberries also enclose a number of B vitamins that help to fortify the muscles of the heart and, at the same time, facilitate in augmented performance of the cardiac system.

Culinary uses

Strawberries, which are not berries in the botanical term, but an average accessory fruit, are extensively esteemed for the fruits typical fragrance, vivid red color, succulent texture, and sugariness. Strawberries are consumed in great amounts, both fresh or in ready-to-eat foods, for instance pies, fruit juice, preserves, milkshakes and ice creams.

Habitat and cultivation

The strawberry plant grows perennially and may be cultivated in most parts of the United States and also in Canada. Specific species of strawberries may also be cultivated in cold places like Alaska. In fact, strawberries thrive best in climatic conditions that are cool and humid, while specific species have also been developed for cultivation in the southern regions.

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It is worth mentioning here that till about the time 1840, strawberries were not cultivated in the United States. It was only after this time that a hybrid berry combining the samples brought from Chile and Peru as well those from that were grown in the United States. This hybrid variety was developed by botanists at a place close to Boston. Although strawberries were being cultivated in Europe ever since the 1500s, the fruits were very small and mostly wild species which the early settlers in North America took delight in. Nevertheless, with the development of the crossbreed variety, using the almost bland South American species, it was possible to develop plants bearing large, succulent and sweet fruits. In fact, this hybrid variety of strawberry is known to be the precursor of all the species of the fruit that are available now.

The maiden move in the direction of developing plenty of the extraordinary strawberries is to prepare an excellent quality bed for strawberry plants. For this, you may select a place which has a well-drained, but not excessively alkaline soil. Using a light, fertile soil having a pH in the range of 5 to 6 is said to be ideal. In case this type of soil is not available to you, you may also excavate the dirt you already have in the field to fill up the bed using a combination of loam, fertilizer and properly decomposed manure. It is best to prepare the strawberry bed during the fall for planting during the following spring.

For planting, it is advisable that you make use of young plant that has a dynamic root system. Prior to planting, remove any bruised or unhealthy leaf or root. Make a hole in the bed for each plant and ensure that the hole is sufficiently large to accommodate the roots of the plant without cramming them. Make a heap of the soil in the middle of the hole to position the plant as well as to sustain its root system.

It is important that while planting, the young strawberry plant ought to be placed sufficiently deep so that its roots are covered, but never as profoundly that has it also covered the growing leaves. Fill half of the hole with soil and pour water inside the hole and let it fritter away. The remaining soil should be added afterward to compact it in the region of the young plant. Turn a berry box upside down on the plant for a couple of days with a view to shield the plant. During the first week of plantation, ensure that the soil remains damp, but not soggy.

It may be noted that having matted rows is in fact among the most excellent planting methods for the cultivator, who is not employing an elevated bed arrangement. Ideally, the plants are positioned 18 inches away from one another in rows having a space of about three to four feet between them. When you plant in this arrangement, the runners are given enough space to grow in the first season of the plants' growth, during which only the buds are got rid of with a view to make the plants stronger. During the first season of the plants' growth there is a formation of a mat. In order to facilitate harvesting, it is advisable that the rows should have a maximum width of three feet. In most cases, the plants are dug out along with there roots after three years of growth and a new bed is prepared again for growing young strawberry plants.

Another excellent method to cultivate strawberries is to prepare a lastingly mulched bed. While harvesting the strawberries, the cultivator grades the best fruit-bearing plants in his field/ garden and, preferably, grows the plants marked at 10 inches apart from one another. Following the harvesting of the strawberries, the unmarked plants (those which do not yield a good harvest) are removed. Subsequently, a side dressing comprising compost, in addition to properly decomposed manure is applied at the base of the marked plants. This actually allows the marked plants to spread their runners for the growth of the plants during the following season.

When you opt for the finest plants each year, the patch will keep on bearing an ever more as well as superior quality crop. It is important to mulch (cover the base with manure, straw and leaves etc.) the strawberry plants with a view to shield them from the cold during the winter months and to ensure that they do not dry out or freeze. It is advisable that you pass the time till the entire garden becomes frozen and mulch over the plant using straw and other mulch items after that. Ensure that the mulch over should be approximately four inches in depth. The best time to mulch over the plants is some time during late November. It is important to note that you need to remove the mulch immediately when the ground defrosts, but only when the threat of the last frosting date as well as the strong breeze has ended.

Research

Many scientific studies have demonstrated that the varied phytonutrients present in strawberries in fact function mutually in a synergy to offer several cardiovascular benefits. The benefits of consuming strawberries every day that have been recorded, include diminished oxidation of fats, especially peroxidation, within the cell membranes of the cells coating the blood vessels; reduced levels of fats circulating, counting the entire cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as 'bad' cholesterol as well as a reduced action of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) - the over performance of an enzyme that enhances the hazards of hypertension or high blood pressure in a period lasting for approximately one to three months. It may be mentioned here that the amounts of strawberries that have been used in majority of the studies were equal to consumption of about one to two cups of strawberries every day.

More lately, scientists have documented a new area of health benefit offered by strawberries and this involves regulation of the blood sugar levels in the blood. Findings of numerous researches have shown that consuming strawberries on a regular basis is related to diminished changes of developing type 2 diabetes. A number of these researches found that regularity of strawberry consumption certainly appears to be an issue because ingesting strawberries in the frequency of once every week or even less is not related with the blood sugar benefits offered by this fruit, which was found in different other studies. In these researches, it was found that considerable advantages are not evident till the regularity of strawberry consumption is a minimum of two to three servings of the fruit every week.

One aspect of strawberry's ability to regulate the blood sugar levels is the association between consumption of the fruit, ingestion of table sugar and the resulting levels of blood sugar, which the scientists have documented lately. As one may anticipate, ingestion of too much table sugar, for instance, in a serving range of five to six teaspoons was found to produce an unwanted dash in the blood sugar levels among those who participated in this particular research. However, as one may not anticipate, such a spike in the blood sugar levels was in effect lowered by intake of strawberries at the same time. During the course of the research, it was found that ingestion of just about one cup (about 150 grams) of freshly obtained ripened strawberries could effectively lower the blood sugar levels even while table sugar was ingested in conjunction with strawberries.

The researches assumed that polyphenols present in strawberries have performed a vital role in facilitating the regulation of blood sugar levels. A specific form of polyphenols naturally found in strawberries and called ellagitannins, may well have been particularly significant for the blood sugar regulating benefits offered by the fruit. In effect, ellagitannins are basically polyphenols that are said to slow down the actions of an enzyme known as alpha-amylase. As this particular enzyme is responsible for breaking down amylose starches into simple sugars, smaller amounts of simple sugars may possibly be discharged into the blood stream when this particular type of polyphenol inhibits the action of the enzyme.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of strawberries has revealed that these fruits supply us with an exceptional assortment of plant nutrients (phytonutrients), counting:

  • flavonoids, particularly catechins, procyanidins, epicatechins, kaempferol, gallocatechins, epigallocatechins and quercetin
  • anthocyanins, mainly cyanindins as well as pelargoindins
  • hydroxycinnamic acids, such as caffeic, coumaric, cinnamic and ferulic acid
  • hydroxybenzoic acids, including ellagic acid
  • stilbenes, that include resveratol

In addition, strawberries are known to be a wonderful resource of vitamin C and manganese, two nutrients that promote the supply of antioxidants to the body. Strawberries are an excellent source of folate that maintains the health of the heart; dietary fiber which facilitates in regulating the blood sugar levels; and iodine which looks after the health of the thyroid gland. Moreover, strawberries are also a wonderful resource of potassium that looks after the health of our heart. This fruit is also packed with nutrients like vitamin K, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Collection and harvesting

Strawberries are ripened for collection in approximately four to six weeks from the flowering of the plants. It is advisable that you ought to always harvest only the completely red or ripened strawberries and collect them once in every three days from the plant. While harvesting strawberries you need to cut the stem that bears the berries and not pull the strawberries from the plant. Normally, the harvesting period of strawberries continues for about three weeks. Following harvesting, you need to store the fruits in a refrigerator for a maximum period of three to five days. It is important to note that the fruits should never be washed before or after storing, but only before they are consumed. Alternately, you may also store the strawberries for about two months by freezing them in a refrigerator.

Strawberry face mask

The ingredients required to prepare the strawberry face mask include the following:

  • 4 oz (120 grams) of smashed fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoonful (15 ml) of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of powdered milk

Blend all these ingredients well and apply the mixture to your face. When the mask has dried, wash off using some amount of lemon juice or cider vinegar diluted added to warm water.

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