The British Strawberry

The Strawberry; us Brits love them! Maybe it’s their association with summer; sitting in the garden in the evening sunshine, or maybe its Wimbledon? Whatever it is, as soon as Strawberry season comes around each year, we just cannot get enough of them.

The British strawberry season stretches out from May to October, our summer months, well, if you can call a rainy BBQ in July, summer. Only 15 years or so ago, the strawberry season lasted around 6 weeks, but now we are looking at, on average, a season of up to 20 weeks!

This year, British strawberry growers are predicting big things for this fruity industry. It is estimated that over 75,000 tonnes of the things will be produced this year, and strawberries are expected to fetch over £320 million. Last year, the industry saw approximately £275 million spent on this lovely little fruit, which in itself was almost a record breaker. Even though these figures are impressive, the UK doesn’t even make it into the ‘Top 10 Strawberry Producing Countries’. The USA are the clear leaders, and produce around 30% of the worlds Strawberry population – amazing stuff!

Did you know that strawberries aren’t actually true berries? Technically, a berry has its seeds on the inside, and strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.

Now, I’m sure you are all thinking less of the facts, and onto the good stuff. Strawberries are perfect when watching Wimbledon, and even better in an ice cold glass of Pimm’s lets face it, its all we need for a traditional British summer!

Scientists have actually calculated a formula for the upmost enjoyment and the perfect serving of strawberries and cream must be eaten in under three minutes – two minutes and 50 seconds, to be precise – for optimum taste. Experts also found the ideal strawberries-to-cream weight ratio is 70:30 – or one tablespoon of single cream per two fresh medium-sized strawberries.

Dr Stuart Farrimond, a former hospital medic who hosts a weekly “life science” programme on BBC radio, uncovered the science behind the classic summer dish. He found the strawberries shrink considerably after two minutes and 50 seconds of being covered in cream. Strawberries maintain enough firmness until that time, Dr Farrimond found, after which they soften and shrink at an initial rate of one per cent every 30 seconds as juices from the fruit transfer into the surrounding cream.Although this colours the cream and enhances its flavour, the scientists found the strawberries start becoming too soft.

Lets face it, strawberries are just great! Belgium, thinks so too, they have a museum dedicated to strawberries called Le Musee de la Fraise.

As this strawberry season begins, we couldn’t be more excited about the prospects of strawberry jams and pastries and popping them in cocktails. The question is, how are you going to enjoy yours?