Saturday, 9 July 2011

Strawberries from the hills

When you think of Brazilian fruit you maybe think of oranges (they are the world's largest producers) or pineapples. But there are also more European fruits, especially in the south or up in the hills. When immigrants came from Germany, Pomerania or north Italy they bought their tastes, and their farming skills, with them, so there are apples, grapes, and strawberries. So much so that the town of Domingo Martins actually has a Strawberry Festival each August.

It has to be said though that Brazil is not a major player in the world of strawberries ("morangos"), producing 40,000 tonnes in 2005, which sounds a lot until you consider that Spain produced 320,000 in the same year, and the US 1,050,000. Still, theres a big domestic market, and strawberries are regarded as a high value crop.

Strawberries are not annual plants and will flower for several years, but yield goes down each year so thats not what is usually done. Runners, little plants on the end of stalks, are cut off and replanted each year. You can grow strawberries from seeds, but again it's not very commercial.

There are lots of varieties of strawberries, bred for flavour, or different conditions. The main difference though is if they are destined to be eaten fresh, or used as food flavouring. In Brazil, half of all strawberries are destined to be eaten directly, half to be used industrially. Here's a breakdown of some of the commonest varieties.

To be eaten fresh

Campinas – named after a city in Sao Paulo state and a major growing area. Good size and flavour and tolerant of angular leaf spot, but vulnerable to antracnose and verticillium wilt

Vila nova – early maturing and very productive with an intense flavour, that allows them to be used industrially as well. Resistant to many things but vulnerable to grey mould (Botrytis cineria).

Tangi – vigorous and resistant to spider mites, but late maturing and only averagely productive. The fruit are more pink than red and with a slightly acid flavour

Oso grande – highly adaptive vigorous plants with large leaves. Large fruit, at least at the start of the flowering season.

Selva – not the best, irregular fruit and it's susceptible to many common Brazilian diseases

For flavouring food

Santa Clara – very vigorous with a good flavour, but the fruit are of uneven size and shape. Quite disease tolerant.

Burkley – vigorous, matures early and very productive, but the fruit have a sour taste if eaten fresh and susceptible to mildew.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uau! Very interesting! You always find out good things to tell us!