Valley Bounty: Strawberries

Strawberries, despite the name and their location in most grocery stores, are technically not berries. They are botanically considered “accessory fruit”; unlike “true” berries, which are seed-containing structures formed from a single ovary after the plant flowers, strawberries are actually a number of separate ovaries embedded in supportive tissue (that tissue is the red part of the strawberry we enjoy). What often appear to us to be seeds on the outside of a strawberry are actually structures called achenes, each of which contains a seed as well as a protective layer called a pericarp, and each of which could be called a simple (but complete) fruit in its own right. It is hard to imagine a Beatles song called “Straw-Accessory-Fruit Fields Forever” though, so maybe the slight botanical lie in the name “strawberry” is for the greater good.

Like a lot of seasonal local favorites, I look forward to strawberries enough that, when they finally arrive, I’m not really looking to overly complicate their flavor. Simple dishes like strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, or some strawberry jam to save for later are usually my defaults. They’re also a welcome addition to summer salads, and I think their balance of tart and sweet flavors can even compliment grilled chicken well.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)