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Strawberries - the Fruit of Temptation and Seduction

Myth, Facts, and Recipes

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Fresh Strawberries

Fresh Strawberries

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Strawberries - in Greek: fraoules, φράουλες, say: FRA-oo-les

The Greek countryside is dotted with patches of wild strawberries - smaller than the cultivated strawberries we find in most markets, but delightfully sweet - and favorites of spring picnickers who gather and eat as they go!

The Myth

Greek mythology firmly places the origins of the wild strawberry with the Goddess Aphrodite who, upon the death of the beautiful, but mortal Adonis wept with such passion that her tears fell to the ground as small red hearts... strawberries. Not surprising, then, that in the Middle Ages, strawberries became known as the fruit of temptation and seduction.

From Small to Large

Over the centuries, large and larger strawberries arrived in the Mediterranean from Western Europe and North America which, when cross-bred with the local wild strawberry became the strawberry we know today.

Shopping for Fresh Strawberries

For the best results, pick your own. Otherwise, try to buy fresh from your local foods sources. Strawberry season doesn't last long and, depending on the climate, may be in spring or summer.

  • Smell them. Ripe strawberries should smell wonderful.

  • Look at them. Strawberries stop ripening when they're picked so if they're green when you buy them, they won't magically turn red. They should be free of mold, a deep red color, and have fresh-looking caps and leaves.

  • Look at the packaging. If there are stains on the packaging, chances are something is leaking - too soft strawberries, perhaps?

  • Size matters. Smaller berries are best for cooking, delivering a stronger flavor through the cooking process. Larger berries are nice for decorative dishes like chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Using Strawberries

Open the strawberry packaging when you get home and discard any berries that are showing mold. And then, delight your taste buds with one or more of these Greek recipes:

Fruit or Vegetable?

You know those little yellow dots on the strawberry? They're called "achenes" and they are the actual fruit of the strawberry plant. The berry we eat isn't the fruit at all! (Source: The Strawberry Plant: What You Should Know - pdf format)

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