[NAFEX] darkest berries

Melissa Kacalanos mijwiz at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 13 17:16:43 EDT 2009

On the topic of healthful, dark pigments: has anyone grown bilberries, AKA whortleberries, AKA blackhearts? Google tells me they're a European relative of blueberry, that is blue all the way through, not just in the skin. My husband reports that whortleberry jam is delicious.

I'm timid to try growing a wild plant that is reportedly finicky, when I haven't even tried growing blueberries yet. (Although I'll be planting some this spring. Wish me luck getting the soil just right.) But I wonder if it would be possible to cross whortleberries with cultivated blueberries, to get that all-blue trait into them.

I attended a talk by the strawberry breeder at the Geneva, NY experiment station, where he showed a slide of a strawberry that was such a dark red, it was almost black. I think he showed this slide only to illustrate the sort of useless plants he has to throw away all the time, since they're not the right color to appeal to consumers. But if there's a black strawberry out there, I think it would be worth growing, and worthwhile for educated consumers to buy. Besides, I'm sure it would be useful for the processed food industry. (I've freaked people out by explaining what cochineal is in their all-natural fruit juice blends.) But I haven't seen a black strawberry marketed to anyone.


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