Red, Sweet and Juicy

By Jhuma Biswas

Strawberry is a red, juicy and luscious fruit, grown on strawberry plant. It has several F&B applications. Though in popular perception strawberry is being thought of as a berry, but it is not a berry in strict botanical sense. 

It is stated in Wikipedia (the fact in turn is derived f r o m an academic source) that strawberry technically is an aggregate accessory fruit, where the fleshy part is not derived f r o m the plant’s ovaries but f r o m the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each apparently looking seed on the outside of the fruit is in reality one of the ovaries of the flower. Henceforth, we would refer strawberry only in the context of fruit.

The Rich Legacy

Like many other fruits, strawberry too has a rich legacy. The origin of garden strawberry can be traced to 1750s in Britanny, France, but before this wild strawberries were cultivated. Strawberry fruit was first mentioned in ancient Roman literature, in the context of its medicinal use. 

French began to harvest strawberries by taking them f r o m forest to their gardens, during the 14th century. Charles V f r o m France had more than 1000 strawberry plants in his royal garden. By the mid 16th century, strawberry farming became popular in England. Strawberry’s cultivation in Europe gained some momentum by the end of the 16th century. 

But modern strawberry as we know today, emerged during the 18th century, through crossing of Virginia strawberry f r o m North America, to which Europe was introduced in the 1600s, and Chilean strawberry, to which Europe was introduced in the early 18th century. According to an academic article, all modern strawberry varieties have come f r o m crossing of Virginia and Chilean strawberries.

Cultivation 

Strawberry plants generally require temperate climate to grow. Tropical and sub-tropical climates are generally not conducive to their growth, though some varieties of strawberries can grow in sub-tropical climates too.  Strawberries prefer dry condition, so it is not advisable to overwater these plants. In the off season, strawberries can be grown in greenhouses too. Strawberry is the fruit f r o m a short day plant. It needs exposure of sunshine of about 10 days of 6-or 8 hours each for initiation of flowering. In winter, the strawberry plants growing strawberry remain dormant. 

Well-drained, medium loam soil with high organic matter and with a pH ranging between 5.7-6.5 is ideal for the cultivation of strawberries. The ideal temperature for the growing of strawberries ranges between 60°F to 80°F. Strawberries become ready for harvest after their four to five months of growth.

China is the largest producer of strawberries in the world, followed by the US. During 2017, according to FAOSTAT of the United Nations, China grew 3.72 million tonnes of strawberries, whereas the US grew 1.45 million tonnes during the same year. During 2017, the global production of strawberries was 9.22 million tonnes. Mexico, Egypt and Turkey are other prominent producers of strawberries. 

In India, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Haryana, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are some of the strawberry growing states. In India, strawberry is generally cultivated in hilly areas. Mahabaleshwar, a picturesque hill station in Maharashtra, is well-known for the production of strawberries.

F&B Applications

This delicious fruit has a wide variety of applications for the food service and food retail industry. Strawberry can of course be enjoyed fresh, as a fruit, but can also be made into jams and preserves. Strawberry jam can be a delightful addition to the breakfast tables. Strawberry or its flavourings can be used in milk, ice-cream and milk shakes. Strawberry with cream is a popular dessert in England. In Italy, strawberries are commonly used as a flavouring for gelato. Strawberries dipped in chocolate can be an indulgence to savour.

Strawberry cakes with fresh strawberries are one of the items which if well done, can add value to a bakery outlet. Strawberry cookies can also be tasty accompaniments to evening tea. Strawberry shake is a common beverage across our juice and shake outlets but strawberry juice is also no less delightful and healthy drink, especially during sultry summers. And strawberry banana smoothie can give a wonderfully healthy kick-start to your busy day. 

Strawberry on almond and brown sugar crumble and strawberry pie can also be slightly uncommon but delectable additions to our breakfast tables and so can be strawberry parfait made with strawberry syrup as one of its ingredients. Strawberry parfait can help you tackle the scorching summers better. 

Healthy Benefits 

Strawberries are not only delightful to taste but are also enriched with health benefits. More than 90 percent of strawberry is comprised of water. Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese and they also contain healthy amounts of potassium. Strawberries are also enriched with folate, which is very important for pregnant women. Furthermore, strawberries are low in calories and are spruced with healthy antioxidants.

According to a research done in 2004, phenolic compounds in strawberries facilitate in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases by inhibiting the formation of total and bad cholesterol or LDL. Intake of strawberries in right dosages may improve the health of your heart and may help in lowering blood sugar levels.

Strawberries also help in reducing formation of blood clots that are associated with strokes. What is more, strawberry is spruced with many flavonoids that act as great antioxidants. Together they may act as defense to the invasion of cancer or tumor growth. However, more human research is needed to understand the effect of strawberries on cancer conclusively. Strawberries may also be used to prevent type 2 diabetes.

These are only some of the many healthy benefits of this delectable fruit. So we can see that in this increasingly health conscious age, the role of strawberries in India’s food service and food retail industry demands more importance. Particularly in India’s bakery industry, the role of strawberries needs more creative enhancement.     
 

Regional Cuisine
India is a country with diversity of cuisine that is difficult to find in any other country. Indian cuisine from different regions is considered to be  ... Read More
 
Processed Food Industry: Set for a leap forward
Food is essential for all living beings and livelihood of many. Food is no longer related only to agriculture and farmers. Today, processed food indus  ... Read More
 
How to Ensure The New Menu Is a Success!
A new menu is considered an excellent way to get the visibility and break the monotony. No wonder, chefs are always thinking about introducing new dis  ... Read More
 
Foods of Israel
Located in the Middle East and on the Mediterranean, Israel has multiple climates that are home to variety of plants and animals. The country’s dive  ... Read More