Ever Heard of Pineberries or White Strawberries?
Pineberries or white strawberries are a curious and exotic fruit that was in danger of extinction before it was rescued by a group of Dutch farmers.
In 2003, this odd strawberry variety had nearly disappeared, but timely action taken by these farmers managed to keep it alive to today, when it’s well out of the danger zone.
In today’s markets there are plenty of exotic fruits that are “rare,” being either difficult to cultivate or only producing fruit once or twice a year. This is the case of the pineberry, where it’s not even found in many parts of the world, or exists in such limited quantities that most people don’t even know it exists.
A little background…
Called both pineberries or white strawberries, it has a flavor that’s very similar to pineapples, but it’s actually a variety of the strawberry.
It is said to have originated in Chile, but in the 1700s was exported to France, from which it spread to many other parts of the world.
This little fruit is the result of crossing two different species of strawberries (Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis), both of American origin. The hybrid, which was created by accident, was given the scientific name Fragaria x ananassa to indicate that it is a hybrid by origin, and refer to its distinctive aroma and flavor of the pineapple (ananassa).
While these were once commonly sold in markets in Central and South America (where they were easy to grow), a lack of interest among farmers in other parts of the world led to a decline in their planting and cultivation, causing the species to disappear nearly to the point of extinction.
But in 2003, some Dutch farmers decided to combine their efforts to save the threatened species and to reintroduce it to France for commercial purposes.
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Features of pineberries or white strawberries
- In Spanish-speaking countries it’s common to find this fruit labeled as “white soul.”
- This little berry is characterized by its strong aroma and flavor of pineapple, particularly when it reaches peak maturity.
- Unlike ordinary red strawberries, this variety is white, and has red spots and green leaves.
- The pineberry plant is quite resistant to disease, but its cultivation is rarely profitable because a large number of the berries fail to mature when compared to the total number of berries per plant.
- It’s believed that the nutritional content of the pineberry is similar to that of the common strawberry, but this is still under investigation.
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Recovery of the species
Until 2003, white strawberries were nearly extinct throughout the world, and very few people even knew it existed thanks to the lack of interest for so many decades.
Today the production of this fruit is still very low, so there are many parts of the world where people don’t even know it exists. Given the difficulties in production that we mentioned earlier, those who can find them have to pay a very high price for only a small quantity.
It’s anticipated that in the coming years, once the species has been successfully introduced to new parts of the world, the pineberry will be more accessible to the average consumer.