Strawberries not only taste good as strawberry ice cream, strawberry cake, or strawberry casserole. They also have an extremely positive effect on numerous chronic diseases. Read everything about the strawberry, what effects and nutritional values the berry has, what you should look out for when shopping, and also how you can grow and multiply the strawberry in the pot.
Strawberries: A symbol of sensuality
The strawberry is red like love and sweet like sin – no wonder that all sorts of myths surround the delicious fruit. She served as an attribute of a number of goddesses of love, such as Frigg and Venus, and poets of all ages were inspired by her. The Roman poet Virgil described the strawberry as the sweet little fruit of the gods, and the German writer Paul Zech was wild about the strawberry mouth.
The fruit often plays a central role in fairy tales and legends, including Grimm’s “Grandmother Evergreen”, where children collect the healing fruit for their sick mother. In fact, strawberries have been considered medicinal for thousands of years. used for liver and gallbladder disease, heart disease, measles, and even smallpox.
The tannin-rich strawberry leaves are often included in tea blends and are used in folk medicine primarily for gastrointestinal complaints (diarrhea), but also for chronic inflammation (e.g. rheumatism). It is best to collect them before flowering, but do not expect a strawberry aroma here. The leaves taste tart and uninviting.
Where does the garden strawberry come from?
According to archaeological finds, the strawberry was already highly valued in the Stone Age and is therefore one of the oldest sweets known to mankind. First, the small wild strawberries were collected. Later in the Middle Ages, these were already being cultivated on large fields.
Today we mainly eat the garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa). It only emerged in the mid-18th century and is the daughter of the aromatic North American scarlet strawberry and the large-fruited Chilean strawberry. The garden strawberry quickly became the star in European gardens.
The strawberry is not a berry
By the way, from a botanical point of view, the strawberry is not a berry at all, but an aggregate fruit. The actual fruits are the tiny yellow nuts on the red “berry”. There are now more than 100 varieties of garden strawberries, of which only 30, such as Sonata or Lambada, are important in commercial fruit growing. But all strawberries have one thing in common: They are extremely rich in vital substances.
The nutritional values
Strawberries taste so delicious that you can hardly get enough of them. How good that restraint is not necessary at all, because they consist of 90 percent water and contain only 32 kcal per 100 g. 100 g of fresh fruit also contains:
- water 90 g
- Carbohydrates 5.5 g (of which 2.15 g glucose and 2.28 g fructose)
- protein 0.8 g
- Fiber 2g
- fat 0.4 g
Strawberries for fructose intolerance?
Compared to other fruits, strawberries are relatively low in fructose. The fructose-glucose ratio of red fruits is also almost 1:1 so that even people with fructose intolerance can often tolerate them relatively well, at least in moderate amounts. But try this out carefully, as everyone affected has a different level of tolerance.
The Glycemic Load
The delicious fruits have a low glycemic load (GL) of 1.3, which means that they hardly affect blood sugar levels. For comparison: white bread has a GL of almost 40, and a chocolate bar has a GL of around 35. So it’s better to snack on a few strawberries than to be tempted by sweets.
The vitamins and minerals
Strawberries contain numerous vitamins and minerals, which contribute greatly to their health value.
The secondary plant substances
According to the review by an international team of researchers, numerous studies have now shown that regular snacking on strawberries has great potential both in terms of preventing and curing diseases. By enjoying red fruits, oxidative stress and inflammation can be counteracted and the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases, and cancer can be reduced.
On the one hand, this is due to the high content of vital substances and, on the other hand, to a whole range of secondary plant substances, including in particular polyphenols such as anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, fisetin, ellagic acid, and catechins.
According to Norwegian researchers, the content of bioactive substances varies greatly and is e.g. depending on the variety. Analyzes of 27 strawberry varieties have shown that there are between 57 and 133 mg of phenolic compounds in 100 g of strawberries. The anthocyanins, which give the small fruits their bright red color, are among their most important secondary plant substances. Their content is between 8.5 and 66 mg and increases continuously during maturation.
A study by Italian and Spanish scientists has made a particularly interesting discovery: around 40 percent of the antioxidants are in the nuts of strawberries. Therefore it is very counterproductive if the fruits z. B. be stroked through a sieve in the production of strawberry puree.
The feeling of hunger is reduced after eating strawberries
In industrialized countries, obesity is a major problem – more than half of all Germans are already affected. However, various studies have now shown that strawberries offer some advantages for overweight people. They increase levels of a hormone called adiponectin, which is responsible for regulating hunger pangs.
In addition, the antioxidants contained in the fruit reduce oxidative stress, which is always more pronounced in overweight people than in people of normal weight.
Antioxidant levels increase after consumption
A study conducted at Oklahoma State University in 2016 involved 60 severely overweight subjects with elevated blood lipids. They were divided into four groups. Two groups received a drink containing 25 g or 50 g of freeze-dried strawberries daily for 12 weeks. The other two groups drank a control drink daily with the same calorie and fiber content as the strawberry drinks.
Rely on regionality when buying strawberries!
According to the Federal Center for Nutrition, more than 150,000 tons of strawberries were harvested in Germany in 2016. However, since demand far exceeds production, large quantities are imported from other countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy.
The strawberry season here only lasts from May to August, but the fruit is now available all year round. The strawberries we eat during the winter months come from as far away as Mexico, Chile, California, Florida, and Israel. Imported strawberries have a bad ecological balance and usually taste pretty bland because they are harvested unripe and do not ripen afterward.
In addition, the fruits z. B. in dry Spain, which is already regularly plagued by droughts, must be intensively irrigated artificially. Some of the water is pumped illegally, which, according to the WWF, threatens to dry up the Coto de Doñana National Park, one of the largest wetlands in southern Europe, and the winter quarters of thousands of migratory birds.
So it makes sense in several respects if you only enjoy strawberries in season (May to August) from your region!
Organic strawberries are healthier
Unfortunately, when it comes to pesticide residues, domestic strawberries do not necessarily perform better than imported goods. Studies initiated by Saldo ( Verbraucherinfo AG ) in Switzerland have shown that only 3 out of 25 samples, which came from Spain and France of all places, were uncontaminated. Two out of three samples with the highest residues came from Switzerland.
According to analyzes by the chemical and veterinary investigation office in Stuttgart in 2016, out of 78 samples, 77 contained residues and 76 contained multiple residues. In the case of 6 samples, the permitted maximum quantity was even exceeded. These were substances such as chlorates, which according to the European Food Safety Authority are potentially harmful to children’s health, spinosad, which is dangerous for bees, or chlorpropham, which may be carcinogenic.
It is also frightening that analyses repeatedly turn up banned active substances, such as the fungicide bupirimat (nerve poison), the use of which has not been permitted in Germany for more than 20 years.
Since strawberries are among the most polluted fruits of all, you should always rely on organic quality. This is also supported by a Portuguese study, which showed that organic strawberries have a stronger antioxidant effect than conventionally grown fruits.
A study showed that organic strawberry farms produced higher quality fruits and their higher quality soils can have higher microbial viability and stress resistance.
Strawberries in the plastic jungle
More and more strawberry fields are disappearing under mulch film. These ensure that the soil warms up earlier so that the strawberry season can start earlier and bring higher yields. This also reduces the use of herbicides. However, the use of foil also has serious downsides.
The films are made of materials such as polyvinyl chloride, which contains plasticizers that are harmful to health and the environment. PVC films are very difficult, if not impossible, to recycle and when incinerated, e.g. carcinogenic dioxins. It should be said that a large part of all plastic waste is now exported to countries like China, where there are no structures for collecting and recycling.
The large-scale use of mulch films is also strongly suspected of destroying the habitat of animals and plants, contributing to the decline in biodiversity on fields and leading to a reduction in biodiversity. The problem is that the films tear easily when removed and the plastic parts – in extreme cases up to 40 percent of the material – remain on the fields.
The nature conservationist Christoph Münch announced in this regard that birds such as For example, the buzzard uses plastic scraps to build their nest because they look like a leaf. This could be deadly for the offspring since the water cannot run off due to the plastic parts.
American researchers from the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center were able to prove as early as 2009 that mulch films have a negative effect on ingredients such as anthocyanins and that the strawberries, therefore, have lower antioxidant potential.
Although there are biodegradable mulch films that u. consist of corn and potato starch and can be incorporated into the soil or disposed of in the compost. Unfortunately, they are used far too seldom because they cost more than twice as much and have to be replaced more often. Producers often ignore the fact that biodegradable films do not require clearing and disposal.
We recommend that you rely on organic strawberries from small regional farms, which are marketed directly from the farm. This gives you the advantage of being able to see where the plants are growing. You can often pick the fruit yourself. There is hardly any plastic on farms of this kind.
Grow your own strawberries
Strawberries can also be grown in tubs
The planters should have at least a soil volume of 2 to 3 l. The larger the pot, the better it retains moisture. This is advantageous in that the plants need a lot of water both during growth and in the fruiting phase. Planters measuring 25 x 25 cm to 30 x 30 cm are recommended.
Although the strawberry plants it is moist, you should definitely avoid waterlogging when watering. You can achieve this by placing a potsherd on the drainage hole when planting and ensuring a sufficient drainage layer. This consists of z. B. from gravel, potsherds, or expanded clay and should be 2 to 3 cm. If you put a piece of fleece on the drainage layer before you fill the substrate in the pot, this serves as protection and filters the water that runs off.
Various varieties are suitable for pot cultures, such as Toscana, Cupido, or Mara des Bois.
There are more than 100 varieties
Before you start planting, you need a quality seed. There are more than 100 varieties of strawberries and you can grow not only garden strawberries, but also wild ones. Regardless of the variety, they are always perennial plants.
However, a distinction is made between early (e.g. Clery and Lambada), medium-early (e.g. pineapple strawberry), and late (e.g. Florika) strawberry varieties or once-bearing (e.g. Sonata) and multi-bearing (e.g. B. Ostara) strawberries and between monthly strawberries (e.g. Merosa) and wild strawberries (e.g. Forest Queen). It is therefore not that easy to decide on a variety. When choosing, make sure that the strawberry variety best suits the location in your region.
Sowing and planting
In general, you will buy young strawberry plants or propagate existing plants via stolons. However, the choice of varieties is greater if you use seeds. So if you want to try sowing strawberry plants, you should sow the tiny strawberry seeds between the end of January and mid-March.
After the seeds have been distributed in a seed tray with nutrient-rich potting soil, it takes up to 6 weeks for them to germinate. When the plants have formed 5 leaves, they are first planted in small pots. Planting time is from May when the young plants are planted out at a distance of 20 to 30 cm in the strawberry bed. Strawberry plants that are planted in spring often bear only sparse fruit in the year of planting.
A later planting time, i.e. in July or August, offers you the advantage that the strawberry plants can grow and thrive well. Growth is so important because they have to survive the winter well in order to experience a rich strawberry harvest next year.
What are strawberries of the month?
Monthly strawberries are named because they bear fruit for months. You can reap the rewards over and over again. These are wild strawberries that have been modified by breeding. Monthly strawberries are also perennial plants. They are characterized by the fact that they do not form any runners, but rather reproduce exclusively via seeds. Their fruits are much smaller than those of garden strawberries but are characterized by a particularly aromatic taste.
What to consider when harvesting
Depending on the weather and the variety, the harvest season begins in May or June. Strawberries are best picked in the early morning hours because that is when the aroma is most intense. Make sure to pick the berries right by the stalk to avoid damaging the delicate fruit during picking. You can recognize ripe fruits by the fact that they can be picked easily, i.e. without any effort.
If strawberries are harvested, the green plant leaves should remain on the fruit. Otherwise, the pulp will be injured, which increases the risk of mold forming during storage. After the fruits are harvested, you should put them in a flat basket directly. This reduces the risk of the sensitive berries being crushed.
Purchasing and storage
In any case, when buying strawberries, make sure that they are shiny, consistently red in color, and have no moldy spots. The green sepals and stem should look fresh. You can store unwashed berries in the refrigerator for two to three days. If there are damaged and rotten fruits among them, they must be sorted out immediately.
If you process the fruit into jam or jelly or freeze it, you can also enjoy the fruit outside of the strawberry season. However, in terms of nutrient loss, freezing them raw or whole is more beneficial. They can then be kept for up to a year.