strawberries, icons of pleasure and well-being. Yes, because the delicious strawberries, rosy cheeks of spring that is reborn, are a real one 'superfruit ', which keeps young and beautiful. Of course they must be real, healthy and genuine strawberries. And it's not so trivial, since strawberries have long been part of the ugly list of the 12 most contaminated foods in the world from pesticides.
To enjoy their beneficial properties and theirs amazing taste – did you know, by the way, that there is now a 'scientific proportion' between strawberries and cream? – it is essential to choose the right strawberries. There are many, homegrown and foreign, and sometimes "many", in the sense of large. How to orient yourself?
Strawberries in the Bel Paese
The Italians are not fools, and they noticed it. If the consumption trend until a few years ago (2016) was growing – who doesn't like strawberries?!? And then now they are available all year … – now there has been a collapse. A recent research by Agroter Fruit and Vegetable Monitor has shown that it is well known 72% of consumers were not satisfied of his last purchase. The 63 & would be willing to pay more while having the guarantee of not finding themselves with damaged fruit two days after the purchase … And more than half of the respondents (54%) declares that the taste of strawberries has deteriorated. It can only be this way: in industrial agriculture, which uses 'any' thing to pump the fruit in any season, in addition to losing health, the palate is also lost. Result: the Italian production has fallen for 20 years, heavily. The only sector on the rise in recent years is that of organic strawberries (and biodynamic): less poisons, more health and more taste (and not just sugar …). The first choice, therefore, upstream of the variety, it is about quality: for strawberries, now, the 'bio' is almost a must.
The Spanish conquest
Speaking of production, in Italy it is like this: 100 thousand strawberries under glass; 35 thousand in the open field. The Bel Paese is however split in two: while the North if he is very ill (and the choice of hyper-productive strawberries did not help), the South – headed by Basilicata – sees a positive trend. However, there is an average drop. And there is the hand, or rather the zampone, of the Spain. About the 60% of strawberries what we eat are imported from Spain. And then there are those that come from the Maghreb. And from Poland. So much so that on April 1 a great campaign of Italian producers started to invite consumers to consume our local ones.
By virtue of the enormous quantities produced, Iberian strawberries have competitive prices (the average price of strawberries has fallen in the last few years), and they are the first to appear on large-scale retailers. They come from the Atlantic coast of the southern region of Andalusia, where they are grown intensively, mostly under plastic macrotunnel, to avoid the risks of the weather. Surely, mini-price and maxi-size often are tempting.
The varieties: Sabrina, Sabrosa and Sibilla
The southern and in particular Lucan landscape is dominated by Sabrina and Sabrona. The first is a Spaniard emigrated to southern Italy, of build medium coarse, decidedly attractive, with its compact complexion, sweet though with a small acidulous note, dressed in bright red. An early strawberry, which can be found on the market already at the end of February, and lasts until June. It is also durable, and withstands transportation well. Of course, its price can be double compared to other varieties originating from the same lands.
The Sabrosa cultivar is the most widespread in Italy, a variety of Iberian origin, genetically processed in our country, subject to copyright and marketed under the commercial brands Candonga @ and Candonga Fragola Top Quality @. Let us remember that Italy is a strategic center of the genetic improvement of strawberries (in Ferrara and Forlì, very popular strawberries were born, especially in other countries, such as Clery and Joly), a varietal improvement that can also contribute to the diversification of production.
That said, in Italy there are many varieties to be enjoyed, some 'freely', others by paying the copyright to the company that patented them: we remember Eva and Garda in the north, and then Romina, Cristina, Asia and the sweet Sibilla, of good size , with a conical-elongated shape.
Are the maxi strawberries good?
As for the size, instead, there is from dispel a myth: it is not true that large strawberry equals bad strawberry. In the last 25 years, in fact, there is no doubt that strawberries are leavened more and more: from an average size of 12, 13 grams, they have doubled, reaching 24-25, until they easily reach the 30.
It is the fruit of one selection among the largest, and therefore most profitable, varieties that allowed us to save the strawberry industry. And, increasingly, even the maxi strawberries they can be deliciously sugary. What matters, of course, is the use of toxic substances, pesticides and chemical fertilizers in intensive production. Which is avoided by choosing organic strawberries.
Tricks for choosing the best strawberries
Don't be attracted only by the aroma, which in recent years the research has tried to strengthen to induce the consumer to purchase. First of all, an eye for color: strawberries red Ferrari they are not necessarily better, in fact. Those darker have a higher content than antociane, powerful antioxidants that also help keep memory alive, fight inflammation and can help in the prevention of diseases such as tumors. It is therefore necessary to use some precautions for their delicacy in terms of durability, favoring uniformly colored fruits, and with a well attached stem.
How to preserve strawberries
Strawberries fade quickly, and the more time passes, the more they lose their precious substances. Such as keep them at their best, once at home? "Rule number 1 is that strawberries they don't have to be crowded together – explains Cinzia Cucaro, owner of the historic and famous fruit and vegetable shops ‘o’ Bezagnin di Genova – They must be enlarged in a plate, or in a Tapperware, made of glass or ceramic ”.
The plastic basket in which they are often sold must therefore be eliminated, it is not suitable for storage. Cinzia explains how the strawberry is a fruit composed of over 90% water and, in terms of conservation, very similar to apricot. "When you buy them in theory they should all be healthy, but if by chance there is some dented or strawberry, you have to take it off immediately, because within a very short time the mold will extend to all the other fruits".
Strawberries go must be kept in the fridge, for a maximum of 2 or 3 days. And importantly: "They must be preserved dry, they are washed only at the time of consumption, being very careful wash them with the stalk, otherwise if you remove the water it is absorbed inside the strawberry ".
Carola Traverso Saibante
updated in April 2019
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