The Wild Strawberry - Queen of the Wild Fruits
Updated: Jun 11
Wild Strawberries? Yes they exist and even more good news, they are even better than garden strawberries.
So first a little history lesson. The great British garden strawberry is a hybrid of an imported giant from the Americas that was brought here in the 17th and 18th century. In fact the only strawberry known to all Europeans was the wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) before this time.
Can you eat Wild Strawberries?
Yes, wild strawberries are safe to eat, and they can be quite delicious. Wild strawberries, also known as woodland strawberries or alpine strawberries, are a smaller and more flavorful version of the common garden strawberry. They are typically found in temperate regions and are often foraged in the wild.
Wild strawberries can be eaten fresh, just like cultivated strawberries. They have a sweet and tangy flavour, though they are generally smaller in size compared to cultivated varieties. You can eat them on their own, use them in desserts like pies or tarts, or incorporate them into salads and smoothies.
Do Wild Strawberries grow in the UK?
Yes, wild strawberries do grow in the United Kingdom. They are native to various parts of Europe, including the UK. Wild strawberries can be found in a range of habitats, such as woodlands, meadows, hedgerows, and even in gardens.
In the UK, wild strawberries are often referred to as woodland strawberries or wild strawberries. They are smaller than cultivated strawberries but are known for their intense flavor. They have a sweet and fragrant taste that many people find delightful.
During the summer months, particularly from June to July, you may be able to find wild strawberries growing in hedgerows, along woodland edges, or in open meadows. They are a popular foraged food, and some people enjoy gathering them to eat fresh or use them in various culinary preparations.
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Where do Wild Strawberries grow?
Wild strawberries , also known as woodland strawberries, grow in various habitats throughout the UK. They are a common and widespread species that can be found in different regions.
Here's where to find wild strawberries growing in the UK:
Woodlands: Wild strawberries thrive in woodland areas, especially in the edges and clearings where they receive partial shade. Look for them along woodland paths, near fallen logs, or in patches of dappled sunlight.
Hedgerows: Wild strawberries can often be found in hedgerows, which are commonly found in rural areas. They may grow alongside other plants in the hedgerow, taking advantage of the sunlight and nutrients available.
Meadows and grassy areas: Wild strawberries can be found in meadows, grassy fields, and open areas with sufficient sunlight. They may appear in patches among the grass or other vegetation.
Coastal areas: In coastal regions, wild strawberries can be found in sand dunes, coastal grasslands, and cliff edges. These areas provide suitable growing conditions for the plants.
Gardens and cultivated spaces: While wild strawberries are naturally occurring, they can also establish themselves in gardens, particularly if they are in proximity to wilder areas or if they were intentionally planted.
It's important to note that the exact distribution of wild strawberries can vary across the UK, and local conditions, such as soil type, elevation, and climate, can influence their presence in specific areas.
Wild Strawberry Identification
The Wild Strawberry is rare and difficult to find. But when you do, it is very easy to identify. This low growing perennial has deeply veined and serrated leaves, the flowers appear from April to July and have 5 white petals that appear in clusters. The fruits are small and bright red when ripe with a perfect coating of little seeds distributed evenly over the soft red skin of the fruit which appears June to August. The wild strawberry plant looks like a smaller wiry version of the cultivated Strawberry.
Wild strawberry plants can be found in woodland to grassland and are said to prefer chalky soils.
The name strawberry was perceived to have come from the bedding of straw sometimes placed underneath the ripening strawberries to prevent them touching the ground and stop slugs eating the juicy fruits.. However beneficial this tip, this isn’t the reason for the name. The Anglo-Saxon word ‘Streow’ from which the modern English ‘Straw’ is derived from is where the actual name comes from. ‘To Streow’ describes the way that the strawberries send out their many runners in all directions to set new plants. If you are lucky enough to find some wild strawberry plants it is this ‘Streow’ing’ that you can take advantage of. By planting these runners and allowing them to take root you can transplant these promiscuous plants into your own garden.
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What do Wild Strawberries taste like?
So, the flavour… Wild strawberries are exquisite. They are small, sweet and they have a strawberry perfume that lingers in the mouth and is only cut by a slight tartness.
If they were available in the shops, they would be very expensive as a plant does not yield many fruits, the fruits are small and the flavour is, well more adult than that of a garden Strawberry. Please don’t think that I am knocking the garden strawberry, there is nothing better than one of your own freshly picked and perfectly ripe garden strawberries. The difference between the two is that they are simply.. Different! Both are lovely in their own ways.
Wild Strawberry Recipes
Here are a few quick and simple recipes that you can try with wild strawberries..
Wild Strawberry Salad
Fresh wild strawberries
Mixed salad greens
Goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
Toasted nuts (such as almonds or walnuts), chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the salad greens, wild strawberries, crumbled cheese, and chopped nuts.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.
Serve immediately as a refreshing and delicious salad.
Wild Strawberry Smoothie
Fresh wild strawberries
Remove any stems from the wild strawberries.
Place the wild strawberries in a blender.
Add yogurt, milk, honey, and a few ice cubes.
Blend until smooth and creamy.
Taste and adjust the sweetness if needed.
Pour into glasses and serve as a refreshing wild strawberry smoothie.
Wild Strawberry Parfait
Fresh wild strawberries
Greek yogurt or whipped cream
Granola or crushed biscuits
Honey or maple syrup
Mint leaves for garnish
In serving glasses or bowls, layer Greek yogurt or whipped cream, wild strawberries, and granola or crushed biscuits.
Repeat the layers until the glass or bowl is filled.
Drizzle honey or maple syrup over each layer, if desired.
Top with a few more wild strawberries and garnish with mint leaves, if using.
Serve immediately as a delightful wild strawberry parfait.
I could now go into the many things that you can do with wild strawberries if you were to happen upon a glut for example you could make and amazing wild strawberry ice cream, if you had other soft wild fruits you could make an stunning wild summer pudding or and this is the most likely, the strawberries will never make it back to your kitchen as they will be eaten where you find them. Also check out this delicious wild strawberry and rose roulade recipe.
The wild strawberry is one of those luxury wild foods that is only available to the deserved, those who care enough to spend the time and try to find them! Enjoy the hunt and enjoy the eating more!
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