By Niel Vaughan

    Strawberries are not berries; they are the accessory fruits of roses.

    First mentioned by the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid 100 AD, Strawberries were believed to be a cure for depression. Today, in France they are still considered an aphrodisiac. Wild strawberries were found in the diets of the first hominids and are the first fruit to ripen in spring. Recognisable from its heart-shape, each fruit has about 200 seeds on its skin.

    Bursting out in a rainbow of colours including yellow, blue, white, black and purple, Strawberries are cultivated in three commercial types: June Bearing (the most flavourful), Overbearing and Day Neutra.

    The origin of their name is still being debated. Could it be from the Old English streawberige as the plant sends out runners much like pieces of straw? Or could it be from the practice of mulching strawberries with straw, or finding them growing wild among matted hay or straw? Other pundits believe the name came from the practice of selling the straw-skewered berries skewered in open-air markets as a treat.

    The first domesticated strawberry was grown in Brittany, France. The combination of strawberries and cream was created by Archbishop and statesman Thomas Wolsey in the court of Henry VIII around 1530.

    Strawberries and cream were first served at the Wimbledon tournament in 1877. Today, on average 28 000 kg of strawberries and 10 000 litres of cream are consumed at the tournament each year, according to the official Wimbledon website. The short harvest season of spring and early summer could be a reason why fresh strawberries have not become a feature of the hot Australian Open.

    Due to its delicate makeup, perishable nature and the unlikelihood of mechanical picking, Strawberries are grown close to city centres, an ideal choice for those conscious of buying local.

    Whether you like to halve them into a jug of iced water, bake them into shortbread, keep them frozen in the freezer for winter, or gobble them just picked from the punnet as you pass the fridge, make sure they’re from a Victorian producer.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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