Take a picture of a typical, everyday, store-bought, home-washed strawberry, using a microscope. Focus in on the seed. You may get something like the image on the right. As expected, it is a picture of a strawberry seed. The surprise? There’s a bug, lying under it.
That’s right: Strawberries – and many other fruits and vegetables – come replete with very tiny, almost microscopic insects. In the case of the strawberry, it’s an incredibly small — about one millimeter in length — white insect which hides around seeds and other white parts of the berry. You can see one such insect in the picture, right, which was taken using a digital microscope by Star-K, an organization which certifies food as kosher.
Are they safe to eat? It seems so. Star-K outlines why one should check food for bugs, but the explanation focuses on the rules of kashruit (the Jewish laws regulating whether a food is kosher) and not necessarily on health and safety aspects. Nevertheless, if you want to rid your strawberries of these tiny critters, here’s how.
Bonus fact: According to the International Ice Cream Association, strawberry ice cream is tied for the third most popular flavor (5.3%), after vanilla (29%) and chocolate (8.9%), as of summer 2008. Also ringing in at 5.3% is butter pecan (!). Neapolitan — which is one part chocolate, one part vanilla, and one part strawberry — rounds out the top five.
From the Archives: Pineberries: White strawberries which taste like pineapple, apparently.
Related: How to Keep Kosher: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Jewish Dietary Laws by Lisë Stern — because you are probably more likely to keep kosher than to buy a strawberry right now.