They grow along sunny banks and sprawl among the forest’s edge. They may even be right in your own backyard. Yet many people don’t realize that wild strawberries are edible and delicious. As a matter of fact, I’ve even heard people warn that they’re poisonous.
Today, I’m here to set the record straight; because it would be such a shame if you never enjoyed these delicious ruby treats due to an unfortunate misconception.
Wild Strawberries are totally edible, and highly nutritious.
However, you must also know that they have a deceptive look-alike: Mock Strawberry. Also called Indian Strawberry, “false strawberry”, or “wood strawberry”.
Don’t be alarmed. Mock Strawberries aren’t poisonous. So if you accidentally misidentify them, you’ll live to tell the tale. Unless you have a strawberry allergy, which is a whole different story. The main difference in the varieties is that Mock Strawberries don’t really have any taste or smell. True wild strawberries will taste and smell like the strawberries you grow in your garden.
There are a couple of quick ways to tell if what you’re looking at is a wild strawberry or an imposter.
1. Check out the color of the blossoms.
2. How are the berries positioned?
3. Do the crush test.
If you come upon a patch of strawberries without any remaining blossoms for identification, and you just aren’t sure if they’re mock or true, do the crush test.
Squish a berry between your fingers and smell it. It should smell like a strawberry. If it has no scent, it’s probably a mock strawberry. Feel free to taste it to see if it has any flavor as well. Sometimes your nose can be tricky, and isn’t always a reliable identifier. If it tastes good, collect as many as you can and enjoy them fresh or in your favorite strawberry dessert.
They’re Edible and Medicinal!
Not only can you enjoy them as a nutritious snack, Wild strawberries can also be used for medicinal purposes.
The leaves can be used fresh or dried as a gentle astringent for diarrhea and digestive upsets. They can also be used as a cleansing diuretic for rheumatism, gout, and arthritis.
Crushed berries make a soothing ointment for mild sunburns. The berries are also a liver tonic, and are used as a fever reducer.
The root has been used in the past as a remedy for diarrhea.
The berries are full of vitamins B, C, and E.
Now You Know!
I’m telling you, you haven’t lived ’til you’ve tasted a freshly picked, still hot-from-the-sun, ruby red wild strawberry. They may be small, but boy do they pack some the flavor.
Do you have wild strawberries growing around your area? The next time you spot a patch of little red berries creeping along the ground, remember what I told you about how to identify true strawberries. And as always, be 100% certain of what you have when foraging for food!