Read This Before You Snack on Wild Strawberries or Mock Strawberries

In theory, eating wild strawberries seems harmless, but you should exercise caution.

Kori Williams - Author

Jun. 12 2024, Published 10:50 a.m. ET

Strawberries growing with white flowers.
Source: iStock

Whether you're trying to incorporate some more Vitamin C into your diet or make more well-rounded meals, growing your own fruits can be a great way to take control of your health and spend some much-needed time outdoors. Although you may be used to seeing these bright red beauties in plastic grocery store packaging, they're pretty easy to grow yourself.

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If you didn't know, wild strawberries can be found all over the U.S. But can you eat a wild strawberry or should you stick with the store-bought version? What about "mock" strawberries, which aren't actually strawberries at all? Here's the scoop on all things berry for your next snack session.

A bush of wild strawberries.
Source: iStock
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Can you eat a wild strawberry?

According to Gardening Know How you can eat wild strawberries, but you should be especially careful when you do so. Livestock or other animals can live and graze upstream. Their poop and other contaminants can more easily make it into the water that comes in contact with the fruit because of this.

To be on the safe side, thoroughly wash the fruit to get rid of anything that could make you sick. Washing them in salt water helps get rid of bugs that have burrowed into them. Plenty of people also soak their fruit in white vinegar to remove pesticides.

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A basket full of strawberries being held outside.
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It's also worth saying you shouldn't use dish soap to clean your fruit. Taste of Home says that this is a bad idea because strawberries are porous. The soap ingredients can seep into the skin and you would essentially be eating all of that along with your meal.

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Can you eat a mock strawberry?

Eat the Planet says that mock strawberries, sometimes known as false strawberries or backyard strawberries, are very similar to wild strawberries. The main difference is that mock strawberries look slightly different and have a taste different than what we are used to. Also called false strawberries, the seeds on mock strawberries poke out of the skin on the fruit.

Strawberries growing outdoors.
Source: iStock
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Additionally, mock strawberries have a rounder shape than their wild look-alikes. They have yellower leaves in comparison, and Tasting Table says they have a much milder taste. The publication points out that regular strawberries we know have more nutritional value than these false ones. Luckily, however, you can still eat them like any other fruit. A fun kitchen experiment might be to make jams, desserts, juices, and more with mock strawberries!

Are wild strawberries invasive?

The Spruce says that wild strawberries are not an invasive species. But considering the way they grow, you need to be careful that they don't disrupt other plants you have. They can cover the area they are planted in and possibly prevent other plants from getting sunlight.

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A bowl of fresh and wild strawberries on a wooden table.
Source: iStock

Luckily, wild strawberries are easy to care for, and they suppress invasive weeds. So, if you're planning to introduce wild strawberries to your home, be sure to put them in pots or places where they won't spread too far!

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