Fragaria Vesca. Sounds like a spell from a Harry Potter movie, but is in fact the botanical name for wild strawberries. The wild strawberry is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the rose family grows all throughout the northern hemisphere. It flowers from April to June each year, and can be found in a plethora of areas from roadsides, embankments, hillsides, stone- and gravel laid paths, and meadows to forests, and clearings. It can grow up to 6 inches tall and has leaves that split into small leaflets which are considered ornamental and can still be seen on the crowns of English royalty today. Each leaf symbolizes perfect righteousness. Wild strawberry plants have runners which creep along the ground and sprout new plants along the way. What sets wild strawberries apart from their traditionally cultivated counterparts is their much smaller size. Don’t let that fool you though; their flavor packs a much bigger and sweeter punch that is comparable to none.
A favorite memory of mine is growing up in Germany and spending sunny spring days strolling through the country side with my friends hunting for these delectably sweet and succulent berries. We obliterated each and every patch along the way with no remorse, and no spoils to take home and share either. Each tiny bite was well earned and hard won.
Wild Strawberries in history:
Wild strawberries have been revered throughout history across many cultures for numerous reasons. They go from magical to whimsical.
“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did”. These were the words uttered by 17th century writer Dr William Butler who was referring to the wild strawberry which has always connoted purity, passion, healing, and perfection.
In Native American history it is said that not long after the first man and woman were created they were fighting and the first woman took off in anger. The Great Spirit then placed multiple delicious berries in the way of the first woman to stop her so that the first man could catch up and apologize. First blueberries appeared then raspberries, currants and blackberries. She didn’t even slow down. Then when the strawberry materialized in front of her and she slowed to taste it. It was so good that she stopped to pick more and the first man was able to catch up with her and apologize. It is said that this is why the strawberry is in the shape of a heart, to symbolize the love between the first man and woman.
Each spring in Bavaria country folk tie small baskets of strawberries on the horns of their cattle as an offering to the elves who are extremely fond of strawberries. All in the hopes that in return the elves will help produce healthy calves and abundant milk.
How did the strawberry get its name?
The English strawberry gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon “streoberie” which means strewn berry. Other theories of how the name came about are due to the practice of mulching strawberry plants with straw. Hence the ‘straw’ berry. Another theory of this word association is because various European peoples would string the berries together on a piece of straw to sell them.
- Wild Strawberries are an excellent source of anthocyanins which is a class of flavonoids which are known to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- The flavonoid quercetin which is found abundantly in wild strawberries has natural anti-inflammatory compounds and may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of some cancers.
- Wild Strawberries are an excellent source of potassium which may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Strawberries are a great source of fiber and hydration which helps keep you regular and healthy. Fiber along with potassium is a fantastic way to help support heart health.
- Quercetin and vitamin C in strawberries have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties which may help alleviate symptoms of asthma and allergies.
- Folate among other properties in strawberries are known to help fight depression by regulating mood, sleep and appetite.
Strawberry Shortcake Recipe By Carrie Vasios Mullins
- For Strawberries
- 1 pound strawberries, stemmed, hulled, and sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- For Biscuits
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
- For Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
- For the berries:Combine strawberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Toss and set aside at room temperature. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.
- Make biscuits: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in about 1/3 of heavy cream. Stir to start to mix in cream with a spatula or wooden spoon. When first 1/3 is almost incorporated, add another 1/3, followed by final third, at which point the dough should come together.
- Divide dough into four equal portions and place on prepared baking sheet (see note above). Bake until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Make whipped cream: While biscuits are baking, place heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (see note above). Whip until stiff peaks form, but stop before mixture clumps.
- For assembly: Split each biscuit in half. Top each bottom half of a biscuit with about 1/2 cup strawberries, followed by a few tablespoons of whipped cream. Top with biscuits halves and serve immediately.