The Swedish Strawberry
Today is August 15. The temperature is approx 25°C (77°F), the sky is all blue, and the sunshine is pouring down on my face as I cross the street on my way to the supermarket. It’s a beautiful Swedish summer day. But – wait, something’s missing!
For almost three months, there has been a table on the sidewalk next to the supermarket, a table full of boxes of red and sweet and tempting strawberries, with an equally sweet girl behind. Today the spot beside the entrance is empty, and I realize that the summer is coming to an end. Not yet, please, not yet!
Strawberries, as are any Swedish berry, are an essential part of summer for all Swedes, a self-evident dessert on any Swedish table, with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or why not creme fraiche.
We use to claim that Swedish strawberries are the best, the sweetest, most aromatic in the entire world. And that’s true. Is it? Almost… I’ll return to that statement later.
I used to live in California a few years ago. When I first got there, I was impressed by the beautiful strawberries that were displayed in the grocery store. They were huge and looked perfect, but I was disappointed by their taste. And the same goes for the strawberries I’ve tasted in southern Europe.
So… is it really a fact that Swedish strawberries are sweeter and have more aroma, and if so, is there a reasonable explanation? Yes, and yes.
The explanation is the latitude. Our northern location means that the spring and early summer are cooler than in Italy and Spain, as well as in US. At the same time, we have more light – by midsummer time, when the first strawberries are on sale, it’s daylight all around the clock in northern Sweden!
In the cool weather it takes longer time for the strawberries to ripen, which gives them time to collect the abundance of light that promotes sweetness. That’s the reason.
So, finally, honestly… are Swedish strawberries the best and sweetest? Well… actually, Norwegian strawberries are just as fine… and so are Finnish. To be honest, the very best I’ve eaten were grown in northernmost Norway, close to Lofoten.
But those are in very short supply, so for all practical reasons, Swedish strawberries rule!
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