The history of strawberry cultivation dates back to the ancient Roman times. But it was not until the Renaissance period that strawberries began to be cultivated in Europe on a large scale.
During the 16th century, the French began to cultivate strawberries for their medicinal properties. They believed that strawberries had the power to cure everything from melancholy to kidney stones. The wild variety of strawberries was named “Fragaria vesca” or “wild strawberry” due to their small size and delicate fragrance.
In the 17th century, the wild strawberry was crossed with a larger variety from America, known as “Fragaria virginiana,” to produce the first cultivated strawberry. This new hybrid had a larger fruit size, more intense flavor, and was easier to cultivate.
In the 18th century, the first commercial strawberry fields were established in Europe. Farmers began to experiment with different varieties and growing techniques to produce larger and sweeter strawberries.
In the 19th century, two new varieties of strawberries were introduced – the “Hovey” and the “Baltimore.” These varieties revolutionized the strawberry industry as they improved both the yield and quality of the fruit.
Today, strawberries are cultivated all over the world and are consumed fresh, frozen, canned, and in many processed food products. The annual strawberry harvest is celebrated in many countries with festivals and events showcasing the fruit.