Strawberry

"Then unto London I dyd me hye
Of all the land it beareth the pryse
'Hot pescodes' one began to crye
'Strabery rype' and 'cherryes in the ryse.' "

Lydgate, London Lyckpeny.

"Wife unto thy garden and set me a plot
With strawbery rootes of the best to be got,
Such growing abroade, among thornes in the wood,
Wel chosen and picked proove excellent good."

Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, 1580.

"Rare ripe strawberries and
Haut boys sixpence a pottle
Full to the bottom haut boys.
Strawberries and cream are charming and sweet.
Mix them and try how delightful they eat."

Old London Street Cry.

Until the nineteenth century our present garden strawberry was unknown in England. Till then wild strawberries were cultivated and improved in size and flavour; as Hill, writing in the reign of James, tells us, "The strawberry requires small labour but by diligence of the gardener becometh so great that the same yeeldeth faire and big Berries as Berries of the Bramble in the hedge. The Berries in Summer time eaten with creame and sugar is accounted a great refreshing to men, but more commended being eaten with wine and sugar."

Dethicke says, "Certaine skilful men by diligence and care procure the berries to alter from the proper red coloure into faire white, delectable to the eye." He also points out "the marvellous innocency of this herb, though divers venemous things creep over the herbes yet are they in no manner infected with any venemous contagion, which is a note that the herbe (of propertie) hath no affinitie with poyson."

Formerly an excellent tea was made from wild strawberry leaves, and the German government are recommending their people to revive this custom. A Tea was also made from equal quantities of strawberry leaves and woodruff. Strawberry leaves were commonly added to cooling drinks, the leaves were also strongly recommended to be used in baths for those who suffered from "grevious aches and paynes of the hyppes," and the juice of wild strawberries was used as a complexion wash.

Strawberry wine was a favourite with Sir Walter Raleigh. Coles in The Art of Simpling (1656) gives this advice: "Among strawberries sow here and there some Borage seed and you shall finde the strawberries under those leaves farre more larger than their fellowes."

FOR A FACE WASH.

Take a quart of wild strawberries, wild tansy, three pintes of new Milke. Still all these together and wash your face therein.

The Good Housewife's Handmaid, 1585.

STRAWBERRY AND ALMOND TANSY.

Take four quarts of new milk, and half a pound of the sweet almond flour, two ounces of lemon juice and half a pint of strawberry juice. Put to these two pounds of fine sugar and a quart of Canary. Stir them together and beat them till they froth, and become of a pleasant colour.

Ibid.

STRAWBERRY LEAF TEA.

On two large handfuls of the young leaves pour a quart of boiling water.

STRAWBERRY AND WOODRUFF TEA.

On equal quantities of young strawberry leaves and woodruff pour one quart of boiling water.

A CORDIAL WATER OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH.

Take a gallon of Strawberries, and put them into a pinte of aqua vita, let them stand so four or five days, strain them gently out, and sweeten the water as you please, with fine Sugar, or else with perfume.

STRAWBERRY WATER.

To a quart of water you must have a pound of strawberries which squeeze in the same water, then put in four or five ounces of sugar with some lemon juice; if the lemons are large and juicy one lemon is enough to two quarts of water. All being well mixed put it through a straining bag, put it in a cool place and give it to drink.

From The Receipt Book of Vincent la Chapelle, Chief Cook to the Prince of Orange, 1744.

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