The ‘proper’ way to eat strawberries, according to an etiquette expert

More than 250 million strawberry punnets were sold in the UK last summer – but might we all be eating them the wrong way?

Etiquette expert William Hanson has teamed up with berry retailer AVA Berries to share what he sees as the “socially acceptable” way to eat one of Britain’s favourite fruits.

Included in his list of top tips is the use of a fork in formal and semi-formal settings, a requirement to discard stems in the top left-hand side of the plate and a warning against pre-pouring cream before the guests can have their say.

Feeding a strawberry to another adult while in public, meanwhile, is an absolute no-no.

He does acknowledge, however, that eating strawberries by hand is acceptable in less formal environments.

Mr Hanson said: “Frankly, I was shocked there wasn’t already a dedicated guide on the etiquette of eating one of the most British of fruits, the succulent strawberry.

“And for however juicy and delicious these fruits may be, it’s important to eat them elegantly, which is why my new guide is timely.

“Even if quality fruit, like AVA Berries, are only available for some of the year – displaying good manners is always in season.”

Here is his guide to avoiding any strawberry faux pas:

The Dos and Don’ts of Eating Strawberries, according to William Hanson

  • DO use a fork to eat strawberries in formal or semi-formal settings. The Victorians invented a tiny strawberry fork to eat smaller, wild strawberries – although these are hard to find today. A regular fork is fine.
  • DO use an accompanying spoon if cream, for example, is served with the strawberries.
  • In formal settings, DO serve strawberries with their stems attached.
  • In informal settings, DO feel free to eat strawberries whole and using the hands. Grasp them by the stem, dip them in chocolate or cream (if you wish), and bite.
  • DO discard stems in the top left-hand side of the plate.
  • DON’T hull strawberries anymore. Hulling is a technique to remove harder, woodier cores when the strawberries are not quite at their best. Good hosts will always serve the best strawberries on offer, so no one needs worry about hulling.
  • DO consider using cream or chocolate as accompaniments to the main event. Less is more. Sugar is not needed with premium varieties – let the strawberries be the dominant flavour.
  • DO serve accompaniments separately and not pre-poured over the strawberries. Allow each guest to add as much or as little as they like.
  • DO eat strawberries only when in season. The royal family are keen champions of seasonal eating, and if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us.
  • DON’T feed a strawberry to another adult when dining in a formal setting; it can make other diners feel extremely uncomfortable.
  • DON’T try to remove a strawberry seed from your teeth with your finger. You should always use a toothpick, and excuse yourself from the table first.