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Wild strawberries are a condensed version of the domesticated variety in both size and flavor. While they are nearly half the size of cultivated strawberries, Wild strawberries offer more concentrated sugar levels and complex floral notes of rose and violet. Their external seeds are petite and gently protrude from the skin. When fully ripe, Wild strawberries are incredibly tender and easily fall apart due to their high moisture content.
Wild strawberries are available during spring and early summer.
There are two Wild strawberry varieties, Fragaria vesca, known as the Woodland strawberry or fraises des bois, and Fragaria chiloensis, known as the Coastal strawberry. Like their conventionally grown cousins, Wild strawberries propagate by means of horizontally spreading runners. In fact, the word strawberry comes from the Anglo-Saxon streawberige, referring to the berries strewing their runners out over the ground. Although red-fleshed Wild strawberries are most common, there are some Wild strawberries that are white with creamy yellow tones.
Wild strawberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and the B-complex group as well as minerals such as, potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine.
Wild strawberries are a culinary delicacy and should be treated as such. They are also quite perishable and thus, will need to be utilized within a few days of harvest. They are as versatile in savory recipes as sweet. They can play the principle ingredient in salads, salsas, ice cream, cocktails, jams, tarts and vinaigrettes. Complimentary pairings include cream, vanilla, coconut, caramel, mango, bacon, grilled chicken, buttermilk, aged cheeses, blue cheese, herbs such as basil, mint and arugula, chiles, pine nuts, hazelnuts, olive oil and citrus.
Wild strawberries were an important source of food for the early indigenous people of North America. The Blackfoot, Cherokee, Ojibwa and Iroquois Tribes also used the leaves of Wild strawberry plants as a disinfectant and a treatment for gastrointestinal, kidney and liver problems.
Wild strawberries are indigenous to both the Old World and New World. Fragaria chiloensis is native to North America. Its seeds were dispersed by birds in Chile, where it has been growing for thousands of years. Fragaria vesca is native to the Northern Hemisphere. Amédée-François Frézier brought back specimens of Fragaria chiloensis to the Old World where it was chance bred with Fragaria vesca to create the cultivated strawberry, Fragaria x ananassa. Wild strawberries continue to grow wild throughout the Americas, Europe and the Pacific Islands.
Recipes that include Wild Strawberries. One is easiest, three is harder.