Strawberries & cream: sweet new variety

19th January 2021 | Eativity editors

On Monday, we shared the story of how a group of Queensland scientists are finding new ways to boost the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables, making them even healthier for you. But they’re not the only ones from the Sunshine State who are making innovative waves in horticulture. A senior plant breeder from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) has been working on a new type of strawberry – and it’s white.

Jodi Neal and her team have already developed a number of strawberry varieties, including Red Rhapsody, Parisienne Kiss and Sundrench, all of which have been rapturously received by the public. This new, naturally white-fruited species, which has very small and soft fruit, has been cross-pollinated with regular strawberries over multiple generations to bring in some of the traits of regular strawberries to produce larger, sweet, white fruit that has a better shelf life so it can be grown and sold commercially. The team has already perfected the colour; now the focus of their work is on developing the fruit’s flavour.

Senior Plant Breeder Jodi Neal has a sweet job (Image: QDAF)

“The white strawberry was bred to give strawberry lovers the diversity and choice that exists for most other produce,” Neal says. “For example, various apple, stone fruit and tomato varieties that are available today each have a different look and taste.”

Many consumers might be surprised to learn that there are many different strawberry varieties sold in shops each year. This is because they all look similar enough that they’re marketed as a single product. But Neal wanted to give strawberry lovers more options.

“The main benefit of specialty strawberries such as these is that they give consumers a choice,” Neal says. “If you want to be creative with your strawberry salad or pavlova, you’ll be able to add white, pink and red strawberries for visual effect.”

White strawberries grown at the QDAF Nambour Research Station (Image: QDAF)

The different varieties also have different flavours, which means people can choose the variety to suit their taste preference or the dish they’re making.

Although the new white varieties have been developed for the commercial market, it could be some time yet before they’re available to consumers. However, Neal tells us that a very pretty and very sweet strawberry that’s pure white inside and has a pink blush on its cheek like a peach is expected to be available soon.

“Additionally, two new temperate varieties and one new subtropical variety of strawberry have just been released,” Neal says. “These new, as yet unnamed, varieties have been selected to have consistently good flavour and lower cost of production.”