Plain or sprinkled with sugar, in ice cream or in a compote, strawberries attract us for their semi-sweet, semi-acidulous flavor and their pretty red color.
Where does the red color of strawberries come from?
The red color of strawberries comes from a molecule that is found in many fruits and flowers and which is called anthocyanin. Depending on the environment in which it is found, it can give a red color like in strawberries, blue like in blueberries or black like in blackberries.
It has no smell, but it gives a spicy little taste on the tongue.
Strawberries are born green, so how are they turn red when they ripen?
The strawberries at birth are small and green. They gradually grow but remain green. The red color only appears at the end of the ripening process, a few days before being picked. What happens in these strawberries?
In the beginning, it is not anthocyanin that is present in strawberries, but a precursor, in other words, a compound which will then transform into anthocyanin.
This precursor is called anthocyanidin. This molecule is colorless. And so the strawberries stay green because they contain chlorophyll, like the leaves of trees.
Except that at the end of the ripening process, the fruit is enriched with sugar.
And sugar reacts with anthocyanidin to form anthocyanin, responsible for the red color.
The importance of the red color in the vegetable kingdom?
Anthocyanin is present in fruits, but also in vegetables, tree leaves or flowers.
Raspberry, blood orange, eggplant, grapes, cherries or Okinawa potatoes, all contain varying amounts of anthocyanin. But what is it for?
In the case of flowers, it would appear that the red/mauve colors make it easier to attract pollinators.
While in fruits, their bright color would more easily attract herbivores, which, when eaten, would scatter the seeds into the soil.