As the Strawberry is one of the most beautiful and delicious, so it is also one of the most healthful and nourishing of all the whole family of fruits. For Reasons which are purely sanitary, the Strawberry ought to be played within the reach of every man, woman and child in the community; and even more bountifully to the poor, than to the rich. On all children’s health excursions, the bounties of Providence is the way of fruits, should be the principal dishes of the diet’ and chief among the chief should be the Strawberry. The same line of remark, however, applies as well to the poor father and mother who remain at home, as to the children who are transported by steamer or rail to the most romantic regions of our charming and noble Park.
Ripe fruit of all kinds, including apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, grapes, raspberries and strawberries (but the greatest of these is the Strawberry) which should be furnished in lavish profusion to all sick persons in private houses and public hospitals, to all asylums, retreats, homes, reformatories and charitable institutions of every name and character. As all sound and well ripened fruits – I say this is the distinction from mountains of immature fruits of a poor quality, which do a hundred times more harm than good – all fully matured fruits of an excellent quality, as they act as a curative to the sick, so they serve as a preventive to the well. They are essential service to the aged and inform as they are to children and the growing young. While they always afford pleasure to the palate, they are always invigorating to the digestive organs; they are a corrective of every ailment of the stomach; and are, in the highest degree, nourishing to both body and mind. All this holds true of the superior article of well-ripened fruits in general; but what the rose is to flowers, the Strawberry is to fruits-queen of the field!
According to the classification of the books, the Strawberry is the genus frogaria. It is told to us to have been brought by the ancient Romans into Italy from Mount Ida. This primitive Strawberry of the Romans (known among them as the arbum) was probably little more inviting than the sourest kind of our wild cherry. Pliny spoke of it so sour as that he would not make “two bites of it;” one at a time was quite enough.
While some men think that in every respect the world is growing worse, let me assure you, as the result of my studies, that it is my firm conviction that the fruits and berries are growing better and better with every age. New fruits and better fruits- these grow with the growth of civilization, and keep pace with the march of Time. It is maintained that Greece and Rome had poets and orators, and artists and philosophers, which our day does not surpass, and does not even equal; but believe me, that the best fruits of ancient times were but “sour grapes” compared with the improved variations which are enjoyed by us moderns.
Nor is any country in the world more favored in respect to fruits than our beloved and native country of America. The first medal for wines at the French Expositions was awarded to this country; and loads of grape vines are being shipped at the moment to France, from our state of Missouri. England produces fine Strawberries in her Lot houses, and on her high built walls. France produces excellent Strawberries out of doors. But no country, as a spontaneous out growth of nature, produces in such prodigious profusion such delicious Strawberries as the Unites States. Indeed, the aggregate crop of this fruit in this country is so much greater than that of any other, and the qualilty on the whole as produced by nature so much finer, that America may be said to be the home of the Strawberry.
The Annual yield of Strawberries in the US is simply immense. It forms almost the entire Spring trade of the fruit growers. Not only tons, but hundreds of tons, of Strawberries come and go, before any other fruit has appeared in any considerable quantity. Reaching as first from the extreme Southern Sates, before the month of April, they keep coming from point after point, further North until the latest day in June.
There are many varieties of the Strawberry but numerous as the different varieties are, there is not one that is not delicious. Almost every season produces some new seedling; and it is my confident conviction that varieties still fuller, richer and more highly flavored, while yet crown the labors and experiments of our enterprising growers. Mellow, succulent, and nutritious as the pulp of the Strawberries is now, delightfully fragrant as are its odors, and exquisitely delicious as its taste is to the palate-believe me, there is a “coming” Strawberry which will eclipse all the varieties which are now known; while American growers will still keep ahead of the horticulturalists of the world.
Preserved whole, in sugar, the Strawberry constitutes one of the finest and most delicious of our sweetmeats. Very large quantities are used in private kitchens and pubic cook shops in making pies, tarts and turnovers. Still greater quantities are consumed in the manufacture of jellies, marmalades, syrups, cordials and wines, ices and iced creams.
James W. Parkinson