Strawberries have an overall conical heart shape and can vary in size depending upon cultivar and growing conditions. All varieties of Strawberries have seeds on their exterior rather than their interior, which distinguishes them from a berry and a true fruit. They have a bright red sheen when fully ripe and a juicy yet firm texture. While sugar contents can vary from sweet-tart to candy-like syrup, Strawberries maintain a balanced acidity level.
Strawberries are available year-round, with peak season in the spring and summer.
Strawberries are botanically known as Fragaria ananassa and are members of the Rosaceae family. They are not actually a true berry, but rather a greatly enlarged stem end of the plant's flower. There are hundreds of varieties of strawberries, each displaying unique attributes, including flavor profiles, resistance to disease, size, shape and even coloring. The three main types of modern commercially grown strawberry cultivars are: 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.
Strawberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and the B-complex group as well as minerals such as, potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine.
Strawberries are a very versatile fruit appropriate for sweet and savory applications, both cooked and raw. They may be used interchangeably with most other berries, but often times have a higher moisture content and therefore may require alterations in some recipes. Strawberry pie filling, for instance, usually calls for a thickener such as cornstarch, or that the extra juice be removed or reduced to a syrup. Use Strawberries in green salads or in jam, jellies and other confections. Cook them down into a compote or syrup for drizzling over ice cream and cheesecake or added into beverages and cocktails. Complimentary pairings include, other berries, citrus, rhubarb, melon, leafy herbs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, almonds, sour cream, ricotta, mascarpone, yogurt, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, amaretto, Champagne, Kirsch and Grand Marnier.