How to sweeten strawberries

A question for Dan Gill: We planted our satsuma 3 1/2 years ago. We are getting some fruit, but it’s not sweet. Is there anything we can fertilize it with to make the fruit sweet? Or maybe leave it on the tree longer? — Donald Neilson

Answer: By all means, try leaving it on the tree longer. Overall, there is little you can do to increase the sweetness of the fruit.

Fertilize the tree in early February using a general-purpose fertilizer or citrus tree fertilizer following label directions, but it will likely have little effect on the sugar content of the fruit. (Sugar is manufactured in the leaves.)

What you are experiencing is not uncommon on young trees. As the tree gets older has more leaves and makes more sugar, the quality of the fruit should go up. The amount of fruit produced also affects quality. If a young tree sets and tries to ripen too much fruit, that also can affect sweetness. The tree’s leaves only produce so much sugar. That’s why more mature trees with larger canopies and more foliage are more reliable about producing quality fruit than young trees.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. Email questions to [email protected] or add them to the comment section below. Follow his stories at www.nola.com/homegarden, on Facebook and @nolahomegardenon Instagram.

How to Sweeten Citrus Fruit

Citrus image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com

Sour fruits come to mind easily when considering citrus. Lemons, limes and grapefruit are all a part of the citrus family. Depending on variety, care and location, home-grown citrus fruit can run the flavor gamut from deliciously sweet to too sour to taste. If the citrus fruit you grow is too sour, there are ways to get sweeter fruit, before and after the harvest.

Avoid growing citrus fruit in an area with cool summers. Generally, the hotter the summer, the sweeter the fruit.

Plant a variety of citrus fruit known for its sweetness. Read garden catalogs and seed packets carefully, noting which varieties claim to produce sweet fruit.

Use potash and Epsom salts to grow sweeter citrus fruit. Sprinkle approximately 6 handfuls of sulphate of potash around the base of each citrus tree. Dissolve 2 tsp. of Epsom salts into 2 1/2 gallons of water. Use this mix to water in the sulphate of potash.

Allow your citrus fruit to ripen on the tree. Most varieties of citrus ripen well this way. Oranges and mandarins especially tend to sweeten if left on the tree longer.

Place ripe citrus fruit inside a container, such as a box. Shake the container for several minutes prior to serving. Shaking bruises the fruit, freeing the juice and diluting the sour taste of the fruit.

Top peeled citrus fruit with sugar. Prepare the citrus fruit for serving. Sprinkle sugar on the citrus fruit or provide a sugar bowl for dipping.

Use sour citrus fruit in recipes. Citrus fruit can be used to create a variety of drinks, dishes, spreads and toppings. Turn sour oranges into a sweet orange marmalade, use sour lemons to make a sweet lemonade, or make a sweet citrus pie. Sour citrus fruit can also be used to infuse vodka.

Sweet as a Strawberry

A/N: you guys are silly for thinking that chapter 36 was the last chapter. this one is majorly filler though, so sorry lol.

dedicated to anna_mania13 for the gorgeous cover she made, I seriously am in love with it 🙂

Chapter 37: Sweet as Kim Possible

I literally could not stop looking at him.

Ben was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me to finish making the pie that Papa wanted me to make for dessert. He thought I was almost finished, but I had barely just put the dough in the fridge to chill. I leant against the counter, putting my elbows on the top and my chin in my palms. Ben was on his mobile, and hadn’t looked up in about ten minutes.

I felt a little creepy just watching him and smiling, but I couldn’t help it.

“Lottie, what flavour pie are you cooking up?” he asked suddenly, glancing up.

My elbows slipped and I accidentally smacked my head against the marble. “Oh,” I said, half in pain and half in surprise. I rubbed my forehead.

When I looked at Ben, he had his eyebrows raised and his mouth pursed in amusement. “Are you okay?”

I closed my eyes, feeling my head throb. That was what I got for being a creepy thing. “Just splendid, thank you,” I said cheerfully. Then I thought about what I did and slapped the counter, giggles escaping my mouth.

I rubbed my head again, tears slipping out of my eyes from the throbbing and the laughter. “Jesus Christ, Lottie, what’s wrong with you?” he asked. When I glanced at him, his twitching mouth had morphed into a full-blown smile, and he shook his head.

I smiled back at him, and my heart seemed to fall out of my mouth. “A lot of things,” I told him. He stood up and walked up to me, putting his hands on my shoulders and bending down to look at my eyes. I blinked at him in confusion when he frowned. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked.

Ben managed to keep a straight face for about three seconds before he sagged his head and started laughing. His hands gripped my shoulders so tightly that I could feel his body shaking, which in turn shook me.

I loved his laugh. It came all the way from his belly and was a deep and satisfying sound that hung in the air and made me want to laugh as well. Soon we were both falling all over each other with laughter, and I didn’t know what was funny, but I just loved hearing him go at it.

My voice faded off, but Ben was practically gripping me to his chest and crying with laughter. “Y-y-you just-” I furrowed my eyebrows and just watched him. I beamed affectionately, not knowing what to do.

I poked his shoulder to try and get his attention, but he just rested his head on my shoulder and kept laughing. “Benjamin Fisher,” I said, tapping his cheek.

“You just fell against the counter!” he exclaimed. “Lottie, what-“

I cupped his cheeks with both of my hands and turned him to face me, pressing my smiling mouth against his. That definitely got him to stop, and he kind of froze against me. I giggled and he moved his hands from my shoulders to my hair and started responding. I felt his heart beating wildly, and it made me smile wider.

I really loved him.

I moved back and grinned, wiggling my eyebrows. “Don’t make fun of me,” I said, pinching his cheeks and stretching them out.

“Jesus Christ, Lottie,” he breathed, straightening up. His face was flushed, and that made me want to tease him really badly. “I just wanted to know what damn flavour your damn pie was.”

Each year, spectators at the Wimbledon tennis tournament get through a whopping 30 tons of strawberries in the course of a summer fortnight. It is no wonder that the association between Wimbledon and strawberries is such a marketing triumph. But why do we fall for it?

Scientists have actually worked out what it is we love so much about strawberries by pinning down the molecular basis of the its aroma. This can also explain why wild strawberries often taste better than shop-bought ones. The good news is that the work is helping them uncover how to make them even more delicious.

Serendipitous strawberries

Strawberries have a long and proud history – even the ancient Romans ate them. We know this from the works of poets Virgil and Ovid, which referred to them as fraga. The medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch had several strawberries in his triptych the “Garden of Earthly Delights”, painted around 1500.

Some 500 years ago, the wood strawberry, Fragaria vesca, was around in Europe and the musk strawberry, Fragaria moschata, was starting to be cultivated. These were what we would recognise today as wild strawberries, characterised by small, misshapen fruit.

The Garden of Earthly Delights central panel.Hieronymus Bosch/wikimedia

The most common type of strawberries we eat today came to us by coincidence via the transatlantic explorations of Christopher Columbus and his successors. First the very hardy Virginia strawberry (Fragaria Virginiana), a native of North America, reached Europe in the 17th century. Then early in the 18th century, the large Chilean strawberry (Fragaria Chiloensis) came to France.

As a result of an initial fortuitous pollination, these two species were crossed, giving rise to the cultivated strawberry we eat today, Fragaria ananassa, sometimes known as the “garden strawberry”. This combined in one fruit two particular traits inherited from its forerunners: hardiness and large fruit.

The chemistry of taste and smell

When I was young – in the 1950s – you only saw strawberries in the shops for a couple of weeks of the summer, roughly coinciding with Wimbledon. Now we have them all the year round.

This is because strawberry breeders have been aiming for fruit with particular (and marketable) properties such as uniform appearance, large fruit, freedom from disease and long shelf-life. But by concentrating on genetic factors that favour these qualities, other genes have been lost, such as some of the genes responsible for flavour.

The balance of sweetness and acidity is very important to the taste of a strawberry. As strawberries ripen, their sugar content rises from about 5% in unripe green fruit to 6–9% on ripening. At the same time, the acidity decreases, meaning ripe strawberries taste much sweeter.

The ripening process is controlled by a hormone called auxin. When its activity reaches its peak, it causes the cell wall to degrade and so a ripe strawberry becomes juicy as well as sweet. At the same time, gaseous molecules from the strawberries make their way up the back of the throat to our nose when we chew on them, where they plug into “smell receptors”.

But how do scientists know which molecules are responsible for taste and smell? More than 350 molecules have been identified in the vapour from strawberries – and around 20 to 30 of those are important to their flavour.

Unlike raspberries, there is no single molecule with a “strawberry smell”. So what we smell is a blend – these molecules together give the smell sensation we know as “strawberry”. Chemists made up a model strawberry juice containing what they thought were the most important odorants, at the same concentration found in the original juice extract. Sensory testers agreed that this model closely matched the real extract.

They then made up a series of new mixtures, each containing 11 of the 12 main odorants, with a different molecule missing from each. The testers could therefore find out if omitting that molecule made any difference to the odour. For example, leaving out 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone or (Z)-3-hexenal was noticed by virtually all the testers – and omitting compounds known as esters – chemical compounds – such as methyl butanoate, ethyl butanoate or ethyl 2-methylbutanoate were also spotted by most.

This analysis led to the characterisation of basic sensory impressions of strawberries. One of these was a sweet caramel-like scent, which is due to two molecules with a structure containing five-membered rings of carbon atoms called furaneol and mesifuran.

Common or garden strawberry. David Monniaux/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Another impression was a fruity scent, due to the esters, which are responsible for the aroma of many other fruit, including banana and pineapple. They can make up 90% of the aroma molecules from a strawberry. It’s important that the contribution of the esters are balanced – too much gamma-decalactone for example, and the strawberries will start to taste like peaches. The analysis also pinpointed a green note due to (Z)-3-hexenal responsible for the smell of “cut grass”.

Fragaria futura?

Some modern varieties of strawberry are lacking in the quantity and range of molecules. Scientists have analysed wild varieties of strawberries, like the musk strawberry and wood strawberry to find out why.

It turns out that while this fruit may not look so good, it produces a greater quantity of flavour molecules, as well as molecules that are not found in many of the strawberries we buy in the shop. Methyl anthranilate is one of these, it is also found in grapes and contributes a strong and sweetish edge to the aroma. Another is methyl cinnamate with a spicy note.

In their quest for better tasting fruit, scientists are starting to investigate the genes responsible for making particular flavour molecules.

Some 20 years ago, experiments on the effect of adding cream to the flavour of fresh raspberries were carried out. These found that heating enhanced raspberry aroma, but adding cream decreased it.

While this exact experiment does not seem to have been carried out in strawberries, scientists working with the food chain Morrisons recently reported that the perfect strawberry-to-cream weight ratio is 70:30. What’s more, you should eat it within two minutes and 50 seconds of serving, before the strawberries start to get soggy and shrink. Perhaps you should carry out this experiment yourself this summer? Enjoy your strawberries.

The team had analysed the make-up of 152 heirloom varieties of tomato, recording the levels of glucose, fructose, fruit acids, and 28 volatiles. At the same time, over the course of three years, they organised 13 panels of taste-testers to sample more than 66 of these varieties, rating each according to how much they liked it, its sweetness, its sourness, and other taste characteristics.

Bartoshuk still remembers the moment when she was sitting in her office with this mountain of data one afternoon and ran a test, out of curiosity, to see which compounds contributed most to sweetness. She was expecting the answer to be sugar, and it certainly was key, but “I about fell out of my chair,” she says. Also significantly contributing were seven volatiles.

Sweet mystery

Moreover, the volatiles seemed to account for why panellists had reported some tomato varieties to taste sweeter than others that had far more sugar. The team tested a variety called Yellow Jelly Bean, for instance, and another called Matina. The Yellow Jelly Bean has 4.5g of glucose and fructose in 100 millilitres of fruit and rated about a 13 on a scale used for perceived sweetness. The Matina has just under 4g but rated a whopping 25. The major biochemical difference between the two was that the Matina had at least twice as much of each of the seven volatiles as the Yellow Jelly Bean did. When the team isolated those volatiles from a tomato and added them to sugar water, its perceived sweetness jumped.

They’ve also investigated blueberries and strawberries, among other fruits. Strawberries have much less sugar than blueberries but are consistently rated much sweeter. Bartoshuk and colleagues suggest that this is because strawberries have so many more volatiles – something like 30 – than blueberries, which have “maybe three”, Bartoshuk estimates. They found that adding strawberry volatiles to sugar water boosted perceived sweetness even more than the tomato volatiles did, and adding volatiles from both together doubled it.

Where do the best strawberries grow?

Flower-eating pollen beetles in the blossoms of strawberry plants. Credit: Denise Castle

Agricultural production benefits enormously from flower-visiting bees and other flower-visiting insects. Because of their supply of flowering plants and opportunities for nesting, hedgerows and the edges of forests represent important habitats for pollinators. A team from the departments of Functional Agrobiodiversity and Agroecology at the University of Göttingen has investigated whether hedgerows and their proximity to forests might have a positive effect on the pollination of strawberries. It was found that both the weight and the quality of strawberries increased when strawberry plants were placed at hedgerows or at hedgerows next to forests. The results of the study were published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.

For the study, strawberry plants were placed in three different locations: hedgerows bordering forest; freestanding hedgerows; and grass strips isolated from hedgerows. “We wanted to investigate not only the positive effects of pollinators, but also possible negative effects from harmful insects,” says Denise Castle, first author of the study, who is now working at the Julius Kühn Institute for Bee Protection. “That’s why we included not only flies and bees visiting the blossoms, but also the common pollen beetle, which eats blossoms, in the study.” The isolation had a negative effect on the number of pollinators, but not on the densities of the common pollen beetles. The scientists were thus able to show that the connection to forest edges and hedgerows clearly has a positive effect on the pollination of strawberries. “The market value of the strawberries was highest at just under 15 euros per 1000 fruits on the hedgerows connected to forest edges and decreased significantly with increasing isolation”, explains the Agroecologist Dr. Ingo Grass. “1000 fruits harvested in the grass strips achieved a market value of only 9.27 euros.”

“With our study, we were able to demonstrate that hedgerows are important habitats in the agricultural landscape. They can enhance the connectivity between habitats and adjacent crops and thus also contribute to increasing fruit quantity and quality,” concludes Professor Catrin Westphal, Head of the department of Functional Agrobiodiversity.

Strawberry plants next to a freestanding hedgerow. Credit: Denise Castle More information: Denise Castle et al, Fruit quantity and quality of strawberries benefit from enhanced pollinator abundance at hedgerows in agricultural landscapes, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.01.003 Provided by University of Göttingen Citation: Where do the best strawberries grow? (2019, February 5) retrieved 1 February 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-strawberries.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Strawberries

Revised April, 2019.

Introduction

California and Florida are the top two strawberry producing states within the U.S., with California producing over 91 percent of the entire strawberry crop (NASS, 2015). Florida, however, produces the majority of the domestic winter strawberry crop (Florida Strawberry Growers Association).

Over the last two decades, the U.S. strawberry industry has experienced an upward trend in per person consumption. This is due to multiple reasons: consumers have more awareness towards the importance of eating a healthy diet; yield improvements have created an expanded domestic supply, and imports allow for year-round availability.

Marketing Channels

In California, the marketing season for strawberries is nearly year-round. For all other states the marketing season is between March and November, depending on the variety grown (CUESA, n.d.).

A way to add value to fresh strawberries could be starting a U-pick operation. On a U-pick farm, customers harvest the produce themselves. This can allow the farm to save on labor costs during harvesting. Tasks such as grading, storing and packing can also be eliminated (University of Tennessee).

Some very important factors to consider regarding U-pick operations are making sure the site is convenient and appealing to customers. Often U-pick operations will supply a farm stand with already picked product for people who do not have the time, ability or want to pick their own product (University of Tennessee).

If you decide to offer a U-pick operation, make sure to take advantage of free advertisement through sites such as pickyourown.org; whose website provides local listings of farms providing U-pick services.

Processed strawberries usually don’t fetch the higher prices of their fresh counterparts, but they do play a role in strawberry demand (NASS, 2015). To add value, strawberries have been processed a multitude of ways (frozen, dried, syrups and purees, yogurt, etc.) (University of California – ANR). Another way to add value to processed strawberries could be creating specialty items (vinaigrettes, sodas, gluten-free bars) and selling them locally (Pennsylvania State University – Extension). While strawberry flowers are usually left to turn into fruit, they can be used as edible garnish or made into tea.

Production

In 2017, the United States produced 1.6 billion pounds of strawberries, valued at nearly $3.5 billion. Fresh market strawberries accounted for 82 percent of the total strawberry production, with 1.3 billion pounds. In 2017, the average grower price for fresh strawberries was $125/hundredweight. Processing strawberries accounted for the remaining 18 percent, with 300 million pounds (NASS, 2017).

The U.S. strawberry industry is primarily located in the southern and coastal areas in California (Geisseler and Horwath). In 2017, the United States harvested strawberries from 52,700 acres located in 10 states: 38,200 acres in California, 10,700 acres in Florida, and the remaining 3,800 acres from Oregon, North Carolina, Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio (NASS, 2017).

Average strawberry yield per acre was 50,500 pounds in 2017, and ranged from 68,000 pounds per acre in California to a low of 3,200 pounds per acre in New York (NASS, 2017). The large range between the yields per state is due to climate differences. California has a temperate climate, therefore allowing a 12-month growing season, and producing a higher yield per acre than other states. The climates of other states limits the growing season to an average of five-months, with some areas having a growing season as short as three weeks (California Strawberry Commission).

Management

There are three types of strawberries: day-neutral, everbearing, and June bearing (each having many varieties). All strawberry plants produce runners (vegetative part of the plant that is capable of producing a new identical plant), however, some types grow more than others. Runners can be both beneficial and costly to an operation (Iowa State University – Extension).

Day-neutral strawberry plants continuously produce fruit throughout the months of July, August and September. Their fruits are similar in size to everbearing types, but smaller than June bearing types. High temperatures promote vegetative growth rather than flowering, and they produce few runners (University of Illinois – Extension).

The name “everbearing” is misleading. Everbearing strawberry plants produce fruit two-three times per year during spring and/or summer and fall. Their fruits are smaller than the June bearing types, and they produce few runners (University of Illinois – Extension,).

June bearing strawberry plants are the most common type used in commercial production. They produce fruit for a two-three week period during the spring or summer depending on the variety (there are early, mid-season and late varieties to choose from). They produce a larger size strawberry and have many runners (StrawberryPlants.org).

A goal of farmers has been to extend the growing season of strawberries while keeping costs low. This can be achieved with high tunnel production. High tunnels are large hoop houses covered in plastic that cost a fraction of greenhouse production. Berries receive a premium price early and late in the season, therefore an extended season allows farmers to acquire a bigger market share (Washington State University).

Financial

Helpful enterprise budgets for strawberries:

Sources

New: Market Report Generator, Iowa State University Extension.

About Strawberries, California Strawberry Commission.

A Farmers Guide to a Pick-Your-Own Operation, University of Tennessee – Extension.

Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-Scale and Part-Time Growers, Pennsylvania State University – Extension.

Geisseler, D., and Horwath, W.R., Strawberry Production in California, CDFA Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP).
Growing Strawberries – Types, University of Illinois – Extension.

Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts Summary, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Production Guide for Commercial Strawberries, Iowa State University – Extension.

Promoting New Crop of Florida Strawberries, The Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Seasonality Chart: Fruits and Nuts, Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA).

Strawberries: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy, University of California – Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR).

Strawberry Varieties, StrawberryPlants.org.

Additional Links

Marketing and Production

  • North American Strawberry Growers Association – This grower-based association supports ongoing research and educational activities.
  • Pickyourown.org. – This website provides local listings of pick-your-own farms in the U.S. and other countries, as well as crop calendars for each local area.
  • Strawberries: What Makes Direct-Market Strawberry Farms Successful? – This document discusses the components of the strawberry market.

()

‘Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.’ God has had 400 years or so since William Butler, physician, eulogised the fruit, but He still hasn’t come up with anything to rival the strawberry. Nothing seems to chime so well with the British summer than the British strawberry – even in the most rain-lashed of fortnights, 20 tonnes of the fruit are shifted at Wimbledon. And, of course, it is the “British” strawberry, not the “English” one, because a good proportion of today’s UK growers are north of the border.

Even so, for me, strawberries are and always will be associated with the south-east; but then, I’m a maid of Kent, born and bred. To be sure, other areas may lay claim to being undisputed champions: “If you go to Wisbech in East Anglia, they’ll say that the best strawberries are grown in Wisbech,” says Nicholas Marston, managing director of KG Marketing, otherwise known as Kentish Garden, a soft- and stone-fruit growers’ co-operative, whose 57 UK members currently supply around 50% of the strawberries we buy – four million packs a week at the peak of demand.

So, with apologies to Wisbech, it is for Kent that we are now heading, to the village of Mereworth, just west of Maidstone, and the Hugh Lowe Farm, one of the founding members of Kentish Garden.

Marion Regan has been MD here for five years, but the farm has been in the family since 1893, which is when strawberries – Royal Sovereigns, back then – were first planted in these fields. Few sites manage to sustain cultivation for so long a period (many will have suffered the ravages of the disease, strawberry sickness, or else will have succumbed to the developers and sold their land), but business here at the Hugh Lowe Farm is still booming. At peak season, the farm’s energetic team of pickers will gather up to 90 tonnes a week.

The secret of Mereworth’s longevity is that the strawberries here are rotated with arable crops, which keeps the soil in tip-top condition and the fruit free from berry fatigue. “And we make use of the different topography of the land,” Regan points out.

This is easy to see from the top of Kent’s Greensand Ridge, where the views in any direction are of fields of glinting polythene. These never-ending plastic tunnels not only help to protect the plants from the harsher touches of the British weather – and there have been plenty of those so far this year – but also enable harvesting to be controlled and regulated over several months. The standard Elsanta variety of strawberry is a June-bearer, while other fields will crop later, for they are planted with Everest and Bolero varieties, everbearers that fruit right through until November.

Today’s growers are always looking for ways to extend the season – they don’t want the strawberry “year” to be a mere five weeks any more than we consumers do. Fortunately, modern techniques keep the farmers more than busy, although, says Regan, “we always try to have Saturdays off”. Sundays would be more conventional, of course, but this is impossible, seeing as Sunday’s harvest feeds Monday’s shoppers.

The speed with which British strawberries wing their way from field to bowl is, in fact, their trump card: berries can be picked in the morning and be waiting, weighed and packed, in the supermarket depot the same evening. Compare this with four-day-old Spanish imports, or US strawberries, which take five to six days by air freight.

Is this, perhaps, why strawberries from overseas just don’t taste the same? “That’s the nature of imported fruit,” says Angus Coates, fruit manager at Firmin’s Farm in Linton, another Kentish Garden grower. “Different varieties and different climates give them textures and flavours all their own. But the English is what you’ve been brought up with, and there’s that very traditional flavour that you can immediately relate to. You can’t beat an English strawberry.”

But can you improve on it? Last year, Firmin’s invested heavily in a new table-top production system, in which the strawberries are planted in growbags raised above the soil. Coates believes that the approach has many advantages: “The height aids picking,” he says, “but there’s also better air movement, which means a better atmosphere, and less disease potential, which means less chemical input. And you can choose where to plant them, even at the top of a hill, or on stony ground.”

North-facing or south-facing, soil type, glasshouses, fields on the ridge or those in the weald of Kent – all these factors affect what strawberries can be grown, when they can be picked and, most important, how they taste. Those at Hugh Lowe Farm taste very good indeed, the slight differences in sweetness and juiciness evident in samples from two different fields (well, I had to). Growers also do their best to satisfy consumer craving for that perfect-tasting strawberry, tweaking the nutrients in the plants’ liquid feed to affect the sugar levels, for example.

Ultimately, though workers can keep the strawberries dry, warm or even cold through the season, human intervention is best kept to a minimum. Both farms introduce natural predators (assorted mites) to the strawberry tunnels, as well as bumble bees to aid pollination. Nature, it’s true, doesn’t get its own way when it comes to picking time, when a critical human eye must separate the supermarket grade (no splits, good colour, not mis-shapen) from the others. Most pass the test. At Hugh Lowe Farm, every tray of fruit is labelled not only with the field it was picked from, but also with the date and time it was picked, and even the name of the picker. Accountability, indeed.

So, when we’re in the supermarket, pondering the British or the Spanish berries, should we give a thought to their pre-shelf life? Marion Regan thinks so: “It’s not just about the visual quality, or even the eating quality. It’s knowing the history, whether they came from a well-managed farm, and that means right down to the ethical treatment of employees there. The trust that consumers have needs to be backed up. But people are still most interested in flavour.” No worries there, then.

The juiciest, sweetest strawberries! – Berry World

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Let’s face it, most strawberries in Cameron Highlands are sour as all heck; if you wanted sweet strawberries you need to get those imported from Korea. Thankfully, not anymore.

The man behind these delectable nibbles is Mr. Kyosuke Kinoshita. He moved from Tokushima, Japan to live in a strawberry farm on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu a few years ago.

He said that he was told that the land he’s about to use is horrible for planting strawberries and that many other farmers before him have tried and failed.

Source: CAI Singapore

Nevertheless this did not deter him from setting up shop anyway. To the locals’ bewilderment, Kyosuke managed to grow his crop and yielded a large harvest.

Since then he moved over to Cameron Highlands determined to fix his biggest grape gripe with local strawberries; the fact that they are always so sour.

Surely this can be fixed with some careful planning and proper cultivation.

In Cameron Highlands, he partnered up with a Japanese company called Chitose Agriculture Initiative (CAI). Fun fact: Chitose is Japanese for 1,000 years.

CAI, which is based in Singapore, is a biotechnology firm hell-bent on improving and promoting sustainable agriculture in Southeast Asia. Think of all the possibilities e.g. bigger, sweeter fruits!

They basically partner with farms in Japan and Malaysia and help them evaluate the different agricultural conditions of their farm as well as help with recruiting local workers.

Source: CAI Singapore

Together with CAI, Kyosuke managed to grow premium Japanese strawberries on Cameron Highland which they call ‘Chitose Ichigo’.

These plump, juicy strawberries are bright red and have a very natural, fruity sweetness to them. To the other farmers, why yours so sour la?

They’re now being sold online here if you guys are interested in trying. They cost SG$16 (RM50) for ~200g, not including shipping, but if they’re that good, it’s worth a try, no?

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    The strawberry season invites you to have a snack. We’ve picked out the five sweetest strawberry varieties for you.

    Freshly picked strawberries taste best

    The little red strawberry is not only very popular, but also very diverse: Over 1,000 different types of strawberries now exist, from meadow strawberries to the smaller, strawberries to climbing strawberries. It is not only early, middle and late maturing varieties that can be distinguished, but also single and multiple colors. However, the main reason for many strawberry enthusiasts is the aroma. But here, too, there are clear differences. For processing to cakes and desserts or jam especially the most sweet varieties are suitable. We would like to introduce you to the five sweetest varieties below.

    Straw protects the fruits from dirt and rot Rob Bertholf – CC BY 2.0] Depending on variety, there is time to harvest from late May to late August Denise Krebs – CC BY 2.0] The best way to harvest in the morning is when the fruit is still cool

    The 5 sweetest strawberry varieties

    first Elvira

    Elvira is one of the more precocious varieties and bears large juicy and sweet fruits. They are orange-red to red, their pulp is medium to firm. Although the plant makes no demands on the soil, is less suitable for late frosty locations. If you want to process this strain, you should make sure that it does not freeze too well.

    2. Corona

    This strawberry variety is very productive, its medium to large fruits have a rich red to dark red color. The pulp of Korona is medium firm to firm and has a rather mediocre sweet aroma. It is also suitable for heavy soils, but is more susceptible to disease.

    3. Honeoye

    Although this variety is one of the most precocious, it pays to wait until it is fully ripe for a very sweet sweet taste. Honeoye is very productive and trumps with large dark red fruits. Because of its late flowering, it is also suitable for frost-prone layers.

    4. Senga Sengana

    It is one of the bestsellers among the strawberry varieties because its fruits are very aromatic, sweet and dark red. In addition, the Senga Sengana offers a high and regular yield. It can be processed very well, as the goblet with the pin can be very well detached from the fruit and it is also suitable for freezing. It prefers light and dry soils

    5. Mieze Schindler

    Mieze Schindler is one of the oldest varieties of strawberry: it was bred almost 100 years ago and has become a lover’s favorite. It bears very small, but very sweet and aromatic fruits, which are best eaten immediately. It also has low soil requirements, but needs a thriving pollinator species close to it, such as Senga sengana.

    If you want to know more about the variety of strawberry varieties, here is a detailed overview.

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