Winter Strawberry Capital of the United States
Did you ever wonder how Plant City, Florida became the Winter Strawberry Capital of the United States? It all started over a hundred years ago, when Henry Plant decided to build a railroad to Tampa. The railroad offered unique potential for local growers to market their winter morsels of sunshine to the entire east coast.
The sweetest, most luscious strawberries around
The Plant City-Dover area is a mecca for the sweetest, most luscious strawberries around. Moreover, strawberries remain the commodity that made this community a family. In 1982, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) was officially formed. This organization became a voice for Florida strawberry growers. The mission for the handful of farmers was to become “partners in research, promotion and member/community service.”
Growing over 12,000 acres of berries
In the years since then, the growers have met that mission and succeeded in forming a voluntary organization that supports over 12,000 acres of berries. We hope you enjoy our website filled with interesting strawberry information, and if it doesn’t answer all of your questions, we hope it points you in the right direction.
Yes, the statistics are impressive. Florida produces about 15 percent of the nation’s strawberries and virtually all the berries grown during the winter. The commodity has an economic impact of over $1.1 billion on Hillsborough County alone. The 20 million flats produced each year, if placed end to end, would extend from Plant City to Seattle and back again.
Steadily increasing in value
But most impressive is the fact that although production in this strawberry community has been going strong for over a century, the value of the commodity has more than tripled in the last two decades, and could well double in the next decade. If anything, the community’s claim as the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the U.S.” seems stronger. If you make every recipe from our cookbook every year, you will be doing your part to keep it that way!
Selection, Storage & Handling
Fresh Florida strawberries are available from November through April — just when some other strawberry-producing areas are dormant. Fresh Florida strawberries (known as winter strawberries) are prefect for holiday entertaining and are in supermarkets well past Valentine’s Day. Chocolate dipped strawberries anyone?
When shopping for strawberries, select those that are firm, plump, and fragrant and have a bright glossy red appearance. Their fringed caps should be bright green and look fresh. Look for structural integrity.
Berries should be firm, but not crunchy. Avoid bruised or shriveled berries or those having a dull appearance.
Strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested. Select fruit that’s at the right state of maturity — when the berry surface is fully red. This fruit will offer the maximum sweetness and flavor. Cool berries as soon as possible and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It comes as no surprise that fresh strawberries are highly perishable. Use them as soon as possible after purchasing for the best flavor, appearance and nutrient content. Fresh strawberries should be refrigerated and eaten within three to four days of purchase.
The perfect storage temperature for strawberries is 32 to 36 degrees. Store the fruit in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Strawberries packaged in closed plastic clamshell containers may be stored in their containers or fruit may be stored in a partially opened plastic bag to maintain high humidity. Strawberries can only be stored for up to seven days under optimum conditions. Keep in mind that shelf-life depends on how ripe the fruit was when purchased or picked.
Strawberry flavor is at its best at room temperature. Remove the berries from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving. To help berries retain flavor, texture and nutrients, avoid washing or removing their caps until ready for use. Remove the green caps with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife. It’s as easy as a twist of the wrist.
Select fresh Florida strawberries not only for their delicious taste but for the nutritional benefits they offer you and your family. Think about it, just eight medium strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange.
Strawberries are virtually fat free, contain no cholesterol and are an excellent source of folic acid that helps the body metabolize protein. They are a good source of potassium too. You can eat them out-of-hand, on the run. Just wash and bite — anytime, anyplace.
Research by the USDA indicates that strawberries may help fight cancer, heart disease and other ills. They are low in calories (about 45 per serving) and high in ellagic acid, which is believed to help reduce the risk of cancer. A serving size of strawberries is one cup (5 oz.).
According to findings from Yale’s Prevention Research Center and several recognized health and nutrition experts, strawberries, raw spinach and blueberries ranked 100 (the highest possible nutrient density score) in a system called the Overall Nutrition Quality Index (ONQI). The system ranks foods on a numeric scale indicating that strawberries are one of the healthiest food choices around. Ranking foods based on their nutrient density is not a new idea. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrient-dense foods are those providing the greatest amounts of vitamins and minerals with the fewest calories. Strawberries fill the bill.
Health, convenience and deliciousness are just three reasons strawberries are such a popular produce pick.
Did You Know?
- Plant City, Florida is recognized worldwide as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the United States and is the dominate region in the U.S. that produces strawberries in the winter.
- There are over 12,000 acres of strawberries grown in Florida, the second largest producing region in the U.S.
- Eating eight strawberries a day has been shown to lower blood pressure and to improve memory and heart health. Not only that, eating strawberries on a regular basis may lower the risk of some cancers and help reduce obesity.
- Strawberries provide essential nutrients and minerals including fiber, potassium, vitamin C and powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins, quercetin and ellagic acid.
- The levels of ellagic acid found in strawberries are five to six times higher than in most other fruits and vegetables. In lab and animal studies, ellagic acid seems to have some anti-cancer properties.
- Wash. Bite. How easy is that? When you’re on the go, take strawberries with you in a plastic container or sandwich bag. You don’t even need to keep them cool. Strawberries taste best at room temperature.
- Strawberries must be picked at full ripeness. They cannot ripen once picked.
- Strawberry Shortcake originated with the American Colonists. It’s still a favorite today. Florida Strawberry Shortcake is also the official state dessert! This tasty treat was officially declared the state dessert on July 1, 2022, in celebration of the delicious berry and the Florida growers who work hard to get it from the farm to the table — or to the delicious shortcake dessert.
- Strawberries are the favorite fruit of Americans — both children and adults.
- Strawberries are the only fruit that have seeds on the outside — about 200 of them. Each seed has the potential to become a new variety. Strawberry seeds are all those little bumpy spots on the surface of the berry.
- Strawberry is the second most popular natural flavor. Chocolate is number one. Chocolate-dipped strawberries anyone?
- For a fast and delicious snack, spread graham crackers with a thin layer of cream cheese. Top with sliced strawberries to add some crunch. If calories are an issue, select low-fat graham crackers and low-fat cream cheese.
- A dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or orange juice will bring out the flavor of strawberries.
Click here to download the step-sheet package or click the download link below each image for the individual pages.
Then and Now—A History of the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World
Selection, Storage and Handling—How to Bring Home the Best
Amazing and True—Facts About Florida Strawberries
Nutritious and Delicious—Eight a Day for Good Health
Fresh, Fast and Fabulous—Farm to Market from Families Who Care
An Animated Video that Rocks—Jammer Saves the Farm
Looking to Pick Strawberries?
Click below to find nearby places to pick strawberries.