All About British Strawberries

Strawberries in hands

Mike Harrington / Getty Images

Strawberries are the darlings of early to mid-summer, so grab these luscious berries when they are in season. Strawberries can be had year-round these days, but in-season fruit is the most delicious.

History of British Strawberries

What is more evocative of a British summer than strawberries and cream? Just when that happened is anyone's guess. The earliest mention of the luscious fruit was in Roman times around 200 BCE. There are many mentions of strawberries in medieval Great Britain when newlyweds enjoyed strawberries, borage, and soured cream for their wedding breakfast believing them to be an aphrodisiac. The heart-shaped fruit has long been a symbol of purity, passion, and healing and continues to be so.

Modern British Berries

The strawberry season is brief, from early June through August. The arrival of polytunnel grown fruits has extended that time—good news for those who enjoy the fruits, but perhaps not for those whose countryside views are scarred by plastic.
By far the best strawberries to buy have to be from a local producer. A day out strawberry picking can be fun; supermarkets might sell the cotton wool impostors cheaply, but the flavor is incomparable to homegrown fruits. Be on the lookout for PYO (Pick Your Own) signs, which begin to appear across the country in July.

Health Benefits

Not only are strawberries delicious, but they're also good for you.

  • Five strawberries provide more vitamin C than an entire orange.
  • Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • They contain significant levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants which help to fight free radicals These antioxidant properties are believed to be linked to what makes the fruits their inviting red color.
  • Strawberries were used medicinally to help with digestive ailments, discolored teeth, and skin irritations.

Selecting the Perfect Strawberry

Make sure you know how to pick the perfect strawberry. It can make or break your eating experience.

  • Buy unblemished fruit with bright green hulls. Wash and handle them gently and as little as possible to avoid bruising.
  • Only remove the hull after washing.
  • Always let the fruit come to room temperature before eating. Better still, an hour in the sunshine before serving will dramatically improve the flavor.

How to Serve

One of the simplest, best, easiest ways to serve strawberries is, of course, with cream. Thick double cream, clotted, also is delicious. Of course, if the day out picking your own gives you more fruit than you can handle, jam is a way to preserve the flavors of summer for the cold, dark, winter months.

Great Strawberry Recipes

If eating strawberries out of hand gets tiring, not that it would, they are delicious in any number of recipes, both savory and sweet.

British Strawberry Varieties

The Brits love strawberries and more than 12 varieties are grown.

  • Elsanta: Still the most-loved strawberry in Britain, it has a long cropping season and excellent taste.
  • Driscoll Camarillo: It has excellent flavor and is now produced on a large scale.
  • Ava: This premium Scottish strawberry is renowned for its flavor.
  • English Rose: A new premium variety, English Rose is notable for its unusual and outstanding taste, reminiscent of orange zest.
  • Eve's Delight: Eve's Delight combines juicy flavor with excellent shelf life.
  • Jubilee: Jubilee was developed and first sold in 2002 and has since established itself as one of the best-flavored varieties of all.
  • Sonata: This large, firm berry is a well-flavored mid-season variety.
  • Red Princess: The heart-shaped berries are known for their sweet flavor.
  • Sweet Eve: This variety produces excellent yields and good flavor.
  • Red Glory: These plants produce sweet, juicy fruit throughout the season.
  • Evie: With a distinctive flavor and paler fruit, Evie goes particularly well with ice cream.
  • Driscoll Jubilee: This is recognized as one of the best UK eating-strawberry (as opposed to cooking) varieties.