[Market-farming] strawberry flavor

Graeme Gerrard ggerrard at resonant.com.au
Mon Feb 14 06:32:05 EST 2005


We grew 10 varieties here when we started - to see which tasted best.  
We dug in 5 of them because, in our situation at any rate, they had no 
flavour.
We grow really great tasting berries, but I don't think it is just the 
variety.  I think it has to do with organic management and picking the 
fruit ripe.  Older people come in and often say things like "I haven't 
had strawberries like that since I was a child in Russia/Poland".
Young people - and not too many of them come in, but they have never 
had a ripe strawberry before in their lives.

We had a conventional strawberry grower visit not that long ago.  He 
grew only a variety called Chandler.  We have grown it too and it has 
no flavour or is actually unpleasant until it is completely ripe - then 
it can be delicious.  He talked about the plant growth and the soil and 
the way the different berries grew.  I kept saying "try this one - what 
do you think of the flavour?"  He didn't eat a single berry.  He wasn't 
interested in flavour - not at all! Appearance, keeping ability and 
transportability were the only things he talked about and seemed to 
consider.

The varieties from the University of California breeding program Cal 
Giants. Also Gaviotta and old variety from the UK called Cambridge 
Rival are good for us.  But there are over 400 varieties available in 
the US so there must be plenty to choose from.

Graeme

On 14/02/2005, at 3:10 PM, road's end farm wrote:

>
> On Feb 13, 2005, at 10:10 AM, Tradingpost wrote:
>
>>
>> I don't know strawberriy growing, and I'm wondering what they've done 
>> to
>> make supermarket strawberries so tasteless. Is it the bred varieties 
>> or the
>> harvesting, fertilizer, or what?
>
> I think it's mostly the varieties. There are some varieties bred for 
> large size and very firm berries to stand up to shipping; they're not 
> bred for flavor. They've often been picked unripe, too.
>
> Once when I was handing out taste samples at market I had a woman get 
> upset. She got strawberry juice on her shirt when she bit into the 
> berry and said to me, in a tone of great indignation, "These 
> strawberries are *juicy*!" I was baffled and said something like, 
> "well yes they're juicy, they're strawberries." (Not great marketing 
> technique, I know.) Some time later I bought a pint at the supermarket 
> out of sheer curiosity and then I understood. Not only were they 
> tasteless, they weren't juicy at all; they were crisp and hard, like 
> an unripe apple. She must have been eating those, and thought that 
> they were normal.
>
> I did once trial a variety, a year or two after that, that had a 
> similar texture and (lack of) flavor, though not quite as bad. I 
> tilled them back in; I wouldn't take them to market. Since then I 
> approach with great caution any strawberry variety described as "extra 
> firm" or "good shipper".
>
> -- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
> Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
>
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