Ever Heard of Pineberries or White Strawberries?

March 6, 2019
The cultivation of white strawberries is very difficult, so people who want to enjoy this unique fruit have to pay a high price for a small amount.

Pineberries, or white strawberries, are a curious and exotic fruit. White strawberries were in danger of extinction until a group of Dutch farmers stepped in.

In 2003, this odd strawberry variety had nearly disappeared. However, timely action taken by these farmers managed to keep it growing. Today, white strawberries are no longer in danger of extinction.

In today’s markets, there are plenty of “rare” exotic fruits that are either difficult to cultivate or only produce fruit once or twice a year. This is what happens with the pineberry. Not only is it not even found in many parts of the world but it also exists in very limited quantities. As a result, most people don’t even know it exists.

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Background on White Strawberries

White strawberries growing on vine
These fruits are referred to as both pineberries and white strawberries. Their flavor is quite similar to that of pineapples but pineberries are actually a strawberry variety.

It is said to have originated in Chile but in the 1700s was exported to France. From Europe, it spread to many other parts of the world.

This little fruit is the result of a cross between 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, which indicates that it is a hybrid and has a distinctive aroma and flavor similar to that of the pineapple (ananassa).

While white strawberries were once commonly sold at markets in Central and South America, where they were easy to grow, a growing lack of interest among farmers in other parts of the world led to a decline in their planting and cultivation.

Consequently, the species began to disappear nearly to the point of extinction. In 2003, however, a group of Dutch farmers decided to join together in an effort to save the threatened species and reintroduce it in 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 there still is no research to back up this theory.

Recovering the Species of White Strawberries

Strawberry blend
Until 2003, white strawberries were nearly extinct throughout the world. Additionally, very few people even knew they existed, thanks to lack of interest for so many decades.

Today, the production of this fruit is still very low. As a result, there are many parts of the world where people still don’t even know it exists. Given the aforementioned difficulties in production, those who can find it have to pay a very high price.

It’s anticipated that in the coming years, the species will be successfully introduced to new parts of the world. Thankfully, the pineberry will be more accessible to the average consumer.

  • Simirgiotis, M. J., & Schmeda-Hirschmann, G. (2010). Determination of phenolic composition and antioxidant activity in fruits, rhizomes and leaves of the white strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis spp. chiloensis form chiloensis) using HPLC-DAD–ESI-MS and free radical quenching techniques. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis23(6), 545-553.
  • Hernandez-Munoz, P., Almenar, E., Del Valle, V., Velez, D., & Gavara, R. (2008). Effect of chitosan coating combined with postharvest calcium treatment on strawberry (Fragaria× ananassa) quality during refrigerated storage. Food Chemistry110(2), 428-435.
  • Han, C., Zhao, Y., Leonard, S. W., & Traber, M. G. (2004). Edible coatings to improve storability and enhance nutritional value of fresh and frozen strawberries (Fragaria× ananassa) and raspberries (Rubus ideaus). Postharvest Biology and Technology33(1), 67-78.