Have you ever tasted a strawberry tree? This evergreen plant, now almost a rarity, belongs to the Ericaceae family and is widespread in regions with a Mediterranean climate.
During flowering, usually in autumn, its small bell-shaped white flowers form a cheerful cascade of color destined to turn into a bright red berry fruit with a very sweet taste. The strawberry tree has been the protagonist of the splendid Italian gardens for centuries and today it is widespread in Tuscany, as well as in Tunisia, within the walls of Moroccan riads, the Canaries and Ireland.
Properties of the strawberry tree
The strawberry tree has numerous therapeutic properties, so much so that the Latins used to attribute magical powers to its fruits and, as reported by Virgil in the Aeneid, branches of strawberry tree were left on the tombs to symbolize esteem for the deceased. The strawberry tree leaves contain numerous tannins: being a very valid urinary antiseptic, you can easily prepare a infusion of strawberry tree using about 6-7 grams of strawberry tree leaves for each cup of water, leaving them to infuse for 15 minutes. The strawberry tree infusion will help you fight cystitis and inflammation of the bladder.
The strawberry tree in the kitchen
Why not prepare a very tempting variation on the usual vinegar? To do thestrawberry tree vinegar a handful of not very ripe strawberry trees, 6 bay leaves and a liter of vinegar are enough: put bay leaves and arbutusi in a bottle, add the vinegar, close the bottle carefully and let the mixture rest in a cool and dry place, in the dark, for about three weeks. The strawberry trees will ripen inside the bottle reaching the red color that distinguishes them: you can use the strawberry tree vinegar to season salads with a special taste or give it to friends, who will certainly appreciate the delicate gift of this rare fruit.
Bread, butter and ... strawberry tree jam! There strawberry tree jam it is a delight destined to gourmets who know how to appreciate it: the strawberry tree is usually not found in the supermarket or on the market stalls. You could have a tree in your garden or find these red fruits, now rare, wandering through the countryside. After filling your pockets, wash the strawberry trees and put them in a pot covering them with cold water: boil them for about 20 minutes, then mash them by pressing with a spoon on a tea strainer in order to separate seeds and pulp. Once the pulp is obtained (about 500 grams), add 140 grams of cane sugar (which should be less than a third of the weight of the strawberry trees) and the juice of half a lemon squeezed: boil in a pot over high heat. Remember that ten minutes of cooking are enough! Then you just have to set the table and invite friends for tea with strawberry jam.
Beauty tips with strawberry tree
Did you know that the decoction of strawberry tree can it be used as a tonic? In fact, the infusion of the leaves, in addition to being excellent against diseases of the urinary tract, kidneys, in cases of fever and diarrhea, is astringent. You can dry and store the leaves of strawberry tree, to be left in jars, ready to use. And remember that the decoction of the strawberry tree root according to some studies is a valid ally in the treatment of arthesclerosis.
Maddalena De Bernardi