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Exploring Strawberries: Growing Tips and 12 Sweet/Savory Recipes


Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Juicy red ripe strawberries

Juicy red ripe strawberries

A Tale of Three Strawberries

There once was a plant (Fragaria moschata) that grew wild throughout Europe. Respected for its fragrance and heralded in Roman literature, it was cultivated but not domesticated. Dubbed the “woodland strawberry,” it bore small pithy fruits and was decidedly more decorative than delectable, lovely but unloveable.

There was another similar plant, a distant cousin of sorts that grew across the ocean, on another continent. In the 1500s explorers from Europe discovered F. virginiana. It was similar to the woodland strawberry but was more productive, a deeper shade of red, and lusciously sweet and juicy. One might think that this would be the end of the story, that the woodland berry and the Virginia berry were blended to create the fruit we enjoy today, but no. Keep reading.

F. chiloensis

F. chiloensis

There was yet another discovery in the New World; in 1712 a Frenchman by the name of Amédée-François Frézier found a third species (F. chiloensis) growing in Concepción. Though separated by thousands of miles, this second western hemisphere berry was genetically akin to the first—it’s assumed that migratory birds ate and spread the seeds of F. virginiana to the coast of Chile where it not only survived but thrived. In the lush climate, the tiny Virginia strawberry became bold and beautiful, large enough to capture the attention of Frézier who wrote they were “As big as a walnut, and sometimes as a Hen’s egg.” He returned home in 1714 with five of the plants.

Two were gifted to the superintendent of the cargo ship on which Frézier sailed, one was given to his supervisor, and one to the head of the Royal Garden in Paris. Frézier kept the fifth one for himself. The plants grew, they sent out happy runners and they multiplied, but none of them bore fruit. The problem? They were dioecious—a single-sex plant. Since Frézier had selected only plants that bore fruit, he selected the female of the species.

This might have been the end of our story, but along came Antoine Nicolas Duchesne, a French botanist who, 100 years before Darwin, was observing and writing on variations within species and genetic mutations. In 1764 he presented a pot of Chilean strawberries to the reigning monarch, Louis XV. The berries were perfectly formed, large, and succulent—such beautiful specimens that the king commanded that an illustration of them be made for the royal library.

Fragaria chiloensis, illustrated in Frézier’s 1717 text Relation du voyage de la mer du Sud aux côtes du Chili et du Pérou fait pendant les années 1712, 1713, et 1714

Fragaria chiloensis, illustrated in Frézier’s 1717 text Relation du voyage de la mer du Sud aux côtes du Chili et du Pérou fait pendant les années 1712, 1713, et 1714

A Happy Ending

How did Duchesne find (or create) these amazing strawberries? He introduced the Chilean species to the shy little wild European Fragaria moschata. In a garden in France, they had a mad passionate fling and produced a hybrid.

Duchesne named the offspring Fragaria ananassa, the pineapple strawberry, because “the perfume of the fruit is closely similar to the pineapple.” Like its Chilean parent, the fruits were large and flavorful, but like its European pater familias it was deep red in color. And, joy of joys, it was self-fertile, so every plant could fertilize itself.

How to Grow Strawberries

Hardiness: Zones 3 to 10

Soil Requirements: Loamy, well-draining with a pH between 6 and 7

Light: Full sun

Planting Depth: The crown of the plant should sit just on top of the soil

Watering: Keep well-watered until established.

There are a few rules to consider in maintaining a strawberry patch:

  • Even though strawberries will return year after year, they are most productive in the first two to five years.
  • It is best to buy replacement (new) starter plants each year to ensure healthy, disease-free berries.
  • Don’t plant in areas of the garden that eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, or potatoes have recently inhabited. They are all prone to verticillium wilt, which can also infect strawberries.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

1. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

Chocolate covered strawberry brownies will be one of the easiest recipes in your collection. You can use your favorite brownie recipe or brownies-from-a-box (no judgment here). Just be sure to use a recipe or box that fills a 9x13-inch baking pan.

Store these in the refrigerated once they are baked and cooled. They are best when eaten in a day or two.

Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake

Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake

2. Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake

This super moist fresh strawberry bundt cake is the perfect way to celebrate juicy berries. It’s thick, soft, and packed full of fresh strawberries that weep pink tears down each tender slice. The yogurt and lemon create a wonderful tangy balance to its sweetness. This cake slices well and stays moist for several days (or so I've heard). Although it's never lasted that long in my kitchen.

3. Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

There is no way to improve on the cinnamon roll, is there? Flaky, buttery bread rolled with a filling so that there are layers and layers of cinnamon and sugar. This recipe will turn your breakfast roll world upside down. In 90 minutes you can have fresh-from-the-oven strawberry cinnamon rolls flavored with strawberry jam and fresh berries. You'll never want to go back to plain old cinnamon rolls again.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

4. Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Loaded with fresh strawberries and sweetened with banana, these strawberry oatmeal bars are an easy, healthy, gluten-free breakfast with just four ingredients.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

5. Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Unless you are from the Midwest or have attended church potlucks, the name "pretzel salad" might surprise you. Sometime in the mid-1960s, the creative geniuses in the kitchens of Jello brand gelatin conceived of this sweet-salty "we'll call it a salad but it's really a dessert" salad. This strawberry pretzel salad can be made any time of year with a package of frozen berries.

Strawberry Crumb Bars

Strawberry Crumb Bars

6. Strawberry Crumb Bars

The recipe for these strawberry crumb bars is easy peasy—one mix of flour, sugar, and butter is divided to make the crust and the crumb topping. A few people who left comments noted that they had successfully used frozen berries. Yes, that's a great option in the "non-fresh-strawberry" time of year; be sure to drain those berries, okay?

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

7. Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Mahi mahi (also called dorado) is a sustainable, deep-water fish with firm white flesh but a very mild flavor; it's the fish that fish-haters like. Because it's so mild-flavored and "un-fishy" mahi mahi is adaptable to a wide spectrum of flavor profiles—in other words, it goes with just about everything.

A simple 15-minute marinade makes the fish filets smoky and spicy. Wrap the fish in soft, warm corn tortillas and top with a refreshing sweet and tangy pineapple-strawberry salsa. These mahi mahi fish tacos are bursting with flavor and texture (did I mention the avocado crema?) and are so colorful they're almost too pretty to eat.

Pork Chops With Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

Pork Chops With Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

8. Pork Chops With Balsamic-Strawberry Sauce

Pork is often paired with fruit—pork chops with spiced apples or ham with pineapple are as natural a combination as peanut butter and jelly, right? Had you ever considered using strawberries? They're naturally sweet and juicy but also have a little bit of tartness. Mixed with a good balsamic they create a tantalizing sweet/savory sauce for these pork chops with balsamic-strawberry sauce.

Seared Salmon With Strawberry Basil Relish

Seared Salmon With Strawberry Basil Relish

9. Seared Salmon With Strawberry Basil Relish

Like the mahi mahi in the above recipe, salmon is another seafood that "plays well with others." Although it has a more assertive fish flavor, it pairs equally well with sweet or spicy condiments. Seared salmon with strawberry basil relish can be baked or broiled in less than 30 minutes to create a lovely summer evening meal for friends and family.

Grilled Chicken With Spicy Strawberry BBQ Sauce

Grilled Chicken With Spicy Strawberry BBQ Sauce

10. Grilled Chicken With Spicy Strawberry BBQ Sauce

Fresh strawberries are blended with strawberry spread to make this slightly sweet and tangy grilled chicken with spicy strawberry barbecue sauce; habanero peppers add a little kick. Because this is a sweet sauce it will burn easily, so don't add it until your chicken is already ready to serve.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Strawberry Caprese Salad

11. Strawberry Caprese Salad

Strawberries sub for tomatoes in this classic Italian salad. The sweetness of strawberries shines when paired with mozzarella, basil, and balsamic. Turn this strawberry caprese salad into a main dish with wild rice, arugula, and toasted walnuts.

Strawberry Infused Sea Scallops

Strawberry Infused Sea Scallops

12. Strawberry Infused Sea Scallops

This is the most imaginative preparation of scallops I have ever seen; strawberry infused sea scallops have a delicate sweet flavor and beautiful rose color from a simple marinade of lemon juice, lime juice, and strawberry jam. This would be a stunning dish to prepare for a special occasion.


  • The strawberry is the only fruit with seeds on the outside, hence it isn’t classified as a true berry.
  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds.
  • Strawberries (along with apples and plums) are in the rose family.
  • One serving (about eight berries) supplies more Vitamin C than an orange.
  • English and French gardeners added strawberry plants to their landscape for their ornamental value.
  • In the 14th century, King Charles V ordered 1,200 strawberry plants to be planted at the Royal Gardens of the Louvre.
  • California produces one billion pounds of strawberries each year.
  • In the United States, strawberries are grown in every state of the union.
  • May is National Strawberry Month.



Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 12, 2021:

Chitrangada I appreciate your kind words.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 12, 2021:

A wholesome article about strawberries, with excellent and detailed information. Strawberry is one of my favourite fruits. I loved reading about the details of it’s farming, the recipes and the story related to it.

The recipes sound delicious. I love any recipe which had strawberries in it, whether cakes, smoothies, jams or desserts.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful article.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 12, 2021:

Ah, Doris, you've made me so happy. I can't imagine a beagle eating fresh berries--that must have been quite a sight.

Rhubarb isn't for everybody. It's quite sour (but not in a lemony day. It's "different.") Sorbet sounds wonderful (and retains all that fresh fruit flavor). And you can do smoothies with plant-based milk. Here's a link: https://veganinthefreezer.com/dairy-free-strawberr...

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 11, 2021:

Linda, you've really hit home with me with this article. We lived on an acre just outside of town when I was a kid, and my dad had a large strawberry patch in one of our two large gardens. My mom made the best strawberry shortcake that was more of a cold strawberry pie, and she made delicious jams and preserves. We had a beagle that loved fresh strawberries. He would go to the patch and eat a few daily when they were in season. (I'm not joking.) My younger brother wrote up the story and got it published in the Arkansas Democrat newspaper when he was about 10 years old, so he was our family's first published author.

Today, since I'm dairy challenged, I love to make strawberry sorbet in the summertime. I would love to try the strawberry rhubarb recipe, but my Larry doesn't allow rhubarb in our home. His grandmother was a fanatic rhubarb lover and burned him out. I've never tasted it. Larry and I grow a few berries from time to time. Our favorite in Arkansas, of course, is Ozark Beauty. Great article, my friend.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 11, 2021:

Flourish, you've reminded me that my dear MIL in Heaven used to make strawberry freezer jam. It was wonderful--so fresh-tasting. I'm glad I got the timing right! I hope the bars live up to your expectations.

Love to you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 10, 2021:

My dad just picked strawberries so this is perfect timing. I’d like to try that Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Bar recipe you have listed. Sounds really good! My mom made freezer jam. Absolutely heavenly!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Louise, I do hope that you give it a try. You'll be amazed at the flavors. Thank you so much for leaving a comment (it isn't easy any more).

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 10, 2021:

I love strawberries. The grilled chicken with spicy bbq sauce sounds lovely, I've never tried that before. I'm definitely going to try that!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Ann, chocolate and strawberries are absolutely divine. I'm glad you enjoyed the history lesson. (By the way, that 'round to it' list is becoming unwieldy at my house.)

Ann Carr from SW England on May 10, 2021:

I love, love, love strawberries, Linda. On their own is my favourite way to eat them, but with chocolate is sublime too!

Thanks for the fascinating history and also these wonderful recipes. They are so versatile aren't they?

I have grown them before but have none in the garden as yet. It's a 'round-to-it' on my list!

Hope all's well with you. Take care.


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Denise, I can't grow strawberries where I live--welll, actually I could, but the deer would get to them first. I can't imagine being able to have strawberries year-round. For us (in the Pacific Northwest) they are a delicacy for about one month. Yes, we can get imports at other times of year, but they're never as good.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Rachel, home-grown strawberries are the BEST. Thank you for sharing with your daughter.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on May 10, 2021:

What an awesome history. I didn't realize. I have grown them before but always started with starter plants. Here in California, we take them for granted almost year round. I like to even through a strawberry (chopped) into my iced tea. Yum.



Rachel L Alba on May 10, 2021:

Hi Linda. I love strawberries and love your recipes. My daughter decided to try to grow strawberries this year and I will send her your post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Stay healthy.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Thank you Pamela. I try to find unique ways of using the foods we know. Have a blessed week.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Peggy, I'm not a pancake kinda gal, but like you I love fresh strawberries. And strawberry rhubarb pie is pretty hard to beat.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Iqra, yes strawberries are a real nutritional powerhouse, and a good source of fiber too. Thanks for stopping by.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Bill, we're having some paving done this week so happy for the good forecast. I think the turnoff for you (re strawberries) is those seeds on the outside. Have a great week my friend, but take it easy on that hip

Iqra from East County on May 10, 2021:

Yummm! My most favorit fruit.

Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants. They're an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium.

Thank you so much Linda for sharing history and different recipes made from strawbery.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2021:

I used to pick strawberries each year from a strawberry farm in Wisconsin. There is nothing better than a fresh-picked warm strawberry! Many of the recipes you cited sound good. I will make some buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, and I'll serve them with some sliced strawberries and maple syrup. Better go now and get busy!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 10, 2021:

I enjoyed reading about the history of strawberries, Linda. The recipes all looked good. Who wouldn't like a dessert that has strawberries? I never thought about strawberries with fish of any kind. I appreciate all the new ideas you present in your articles, Linda. Thank you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2021:

I love strawberry smoothies. I don't like to eat them off the vine. There's something about their texture that turns me off. But a smoothie? Oh, sign me up.

I hope this finds you well, my friend. Good weather ahead of us this week, and a ton of projects await. Have a great week!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2021:

Good morning Misbah--you're my first commenter today (the gold star is in the mail).

Thank you for your kind words. Strawberry season is about to begin (at least, where I live) and so I thought it was time to release this article to the world. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Blessings to you too.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on May 10, 2021:

Wow! Linda. Brilliant Job. What a detailed study of strawberries. The story of three strawberries was quite interesting. I don't like eating something chocolatey with a strawberry flavor, but I do like strawberries on my cheesecake. Strawberry pretzel salad sounds pretty delicious. I've never tried it, but it sounds great.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful hub

Blessings and Love

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