The wild strawberry isn’t the huge type we all love to eat during Wimbledon week but the small, wild variety that grows in forest clearings and the edges of woods.
Like the cultivated species, this small plant is very kind to us both externally and internally, and is a good plant to cultivate in your garden. It’s quite easy to grow from seeds or ‘mother’ plants which can be purchased from garden centres or mail order dealers.
To get the best results, plant the ‘mother’ plants about 12-18 inches apart. When 4 – 6 runners have become well established and are making their own roots, the runners may be cut off. Fertilize with a good ‘water on’ fertilizer and keep well weeded.
WARNING: SOME SENSITIVE PEOPLE ARE ALLERGIC TO THE FRUIT.
For centuries the plant has been considered as having blood purifying properties and was used to help in the treatment of gout. Fruit and young leaves in equal amounts are combined to make an infusion i.e. about 5 – 20 g of the leaves to 2 glasses of very hot (not boiled) water. Half a glass of this taken 3-4 times a day is good in the treatment of stomach-ache and diarrhea.
A cheap and very effective beauty cleansing lotion can be made very quickly in your own kitchen. Take one cup of fresh wild strawberries, mash with a fork or put in the blender and mix to a thick cream. Warm ½ pint of milk on a gentle heat and add the strawberry cream. Do not allow to boil. Then cool and strain into a screw-top bottle; this will keep 3-4 days in the fridge.
As a facial steam, a cupful of fruit and a cupful of leaves are very good although this is not suitable for dry or sensitive skin. This facial steam unblocks the pores and helps remove accumulated dirt. It also helps the circulation and softens the skin.
Place the fruit and leaves in a large blow and pour over boiling water. Cover your head with a towel and allow the steam to soak your face for 6-8 minutes. Pat the skin dry and apply an astringent to close the pores.
The strawberry’s active constituents are mainly tannins, mineral salts, flavones, Vitamin C and small quantities of silica.
Vitamin C found in strawberries is found in fresh fruit and it is best to eat the fruit whole as every cut surface exposed to air releases Vitamin C. It is also best to eat the strawberries as soon as possible after picking as this way the fruit contains more of the vitamin.
You need vitamin C for good health. Smoking, stress and exposure to poisons use up vitamin C which must be replaced every day as it cannot be stored. Vitamin C prevents scurvy and protects the health of all body tissues including teeth, gums, bones, blood vessels and eyes.
A good way to keep a store of vitamin C for the winter months is to make some strawberry syrup:
5 lb. strawberries
2 ½ pints water
2 ozs tartaric acid
1 ½ lb caster sugar to each pint of juice
Hull the strawberries and place in large bowl. Add the tartaric acid to the water and pour solution over fruit. Leave to stand for 24 hrs. Turn fruit in to a scalded cloth or jelly bag and leave to drip overnight. Measure the juice and add the appropriate amount of sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Strain through muslin and bottle, corking well. Even better, use a special syrup bottle with a clip seal.
Especially good poured over ice cream or on a steamed pudding in winter.