Wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca
Wild strawberry thrives in open habitats that get plenty of sunlight. In the past, naturally grazed lands and slash-and-burn agriculture provided wild strawberries with plenty of hospitable habitats. Unfortunately, as their habitats became increasingly scarce wild strawberries became more and more of a rarity.
Both the berries and leaves of wild strawberries are edible. The intense and exquisite taste of wild strawberries should be familiar to many, and make it the noblest of all the natural berries. Wild strawberries are best used fresh, because heating makes them bitter. In early summer, the young leaves can be used in tea or added to salads.
Something to try
Make a rough purée of the wild strawberries and drizzle a small amount of honey over them. This makes a great accompaniment to cheeses, for example, or with smoked salmon. For another savoury treat, add some finely chopped red onion and melon chunks to the purée.
Gathering the plants
Wild strawberry is the first of the wild berries to ripen, and is at its very best when picked in mid-July. The leaves should be picked in the early summer, because by late summer they have often been damaged by insects.
Other interesting facts
In the 19th and 20th centuries, wild strawberries were economically important to Finland. They were widely sold in markets, and had many culinary uses.
For small children in particular, eating wild strawberries can cause an allergic rash or fever.