BLACK STRAWBERRY, MYTH OR REALITY: A CONVERSATION WITH GIANLUCA BARUZZI
In the last period, there has been a lot of talk about black strawberries, but there is conflicting news. Between scams and reality, we talk about black strawberries, research and the strawberry market with CREA researcher Gianluca Baruzzi
«The myth of black strawberries? In reality, they are very normal strawberries, have nothing extraordinary, and are not transgenic. Indeed, I’ve heard of all sorts ».
Gianluca Baruzzi is a researcher at CREA, the Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis for the Agricultural Economy, and is one of the leading Italian experts in strawberry growing.
We discussed with him about black strawberries, a variety that has been talked about a lot lately but on which more than one perplexity has emerged. The first, for example, is linked to some scams suffered by those who try to buy the seeds of this type of strawberries online; the second is that little information is found online (nothing, for example, searching for “black strawberry” on YouTube) while legends about their origin flourish. Finally, is the color of these strawberries really so black? Let’s try to clarify it with the help of Dr. Baruzzi.
Dr. Baruzzi, you mentioned black strawberries, can you explain more?
«It is a variety with a high concentration of polyphenols and a considerable content of anthocyanins. Color is a consequence. It ranges from deep red to a real black. It is a new variety like the white one, which has the particularity of not having allergens».
So you can confirm that there are such black strawberries?
«Yes, absolutely. I don’t deny that in some photos, there may be some retouching. Still, the black color can be obtained with a cross, absolutely natural breeding, as well as with the use of fertilizer rich in magnesium and potassium».
You have just mentioned the breeding. Would you like to talk a little bit about your job?
«Sure. Our research is aimed at obtaining the new Kandonga®. Every year I happen to evaluate about 30 thousand potential new varieties of strawberries, ranging from white to dark red, almost black like the one you sent me in the photo.
However, the market tends to ask us to work on bright red strawberries that can remain attractive even in the advancement of shelf life. On the supermarket counter, in fact, what catches the eye is the healthy coloring, while such a dark strawberry can make one think of a less fresh product, so these varieties are generally discarded».
But you have already worked on black strawberries …
«Yes, I happened to work on it at the request of a large private company. The dark pulp would have allowed coloring a jam more, but in the end, the project has gone aground».
What do black strawberries taste like?
«The content of anthocyanins and polyphenols does not affect the taste, not even sweetness. There is no correlation between color and flavor. Of course, the high anthocyanin content has nutritional benefits (anthocyanins help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases, ed.)».
In your opinion, can black strawberry have an important commercial development?
«Hard to say. Forty years ago, my father, who already had a fruit farm, brought a green fruit to the table with the seeds, telling us that he would soon become well known. It came from New Zealand: it was the kiwi. Today, Italy is the second-largest producer in the world. If also the black strawberry will manage to characterize, it could occupy a niche market ».
There are many scams for those who want to buy black strawberry seeds. Do you feel you can give advice?
«The canonical one, yes: rely on experienced, serious, and prepared nurserymen».
Finally, is the strawberry sector healthy?
«Yes, even if the geography of crops in our country is changing. Today the South has surpassed the North. The Candonga®Sabrosa quality mark has revolutionized the market and is an excellent example of product enhancement. On the other hand, red fruits and strawberries, in particular, are increasingly nutritious, since they have a high antioxidant potential».
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)