Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Experimenting with Strawberries

I only wish I had thought to snap a picture of the beautiful strawberries we bought from our Amish friends today.They were the biggest berries I've seen in a while,but being big, isn't everything.As I mentioned in my last post, I had purchased a couple of pints from a friend who is a member of the North Carolina Strawberry Association. He grows two different varieties which he orders from them.They are Sweet Charlie and Chancelor.I printed out a page from their website,for him, since his computer is down, explaining that the NCSA has a new variety that should bear in or around the time of the two previous mentioned varieties.It is called Galletta.The fruit should be larger than Sweet Charlie. I hope they are as sweet.

In my little experiment today, I capped and washed each of the three types of berries. I didn't include my own berries in the experiment. I gathered about a gallon from my plants yesterday,however,I do not know the name of mine. I got my start from a neighbor who has passed on,Connie's FIL,and only remember him saying they were a mountain berry,so they could possibly be of the Tennessee Beauty variety.Nevertheless, I had three taste testers on hand today,,four counting myself,so I gave them each a sample of the three berries, no sugar added, then I fixed them samples of all three with equal amounts of sugar added to equal amounts of berries.My goal was to see which berry was the sweetest, before and and after the addition of the sugar,and I used a bare minimum of sugar.The Sweet Charlie won out as the sweetest berry by a landslide. That berry will require much less sugar when I make my preserves.That was my goal.I really don't plan on coming out ahead, though, if I have to purchase the berries, since the price of the Sweet Charlie was greater.They were $10 a gallon,as where the Chancelor.whereas the Amish charged only $7 per gallon.As much as I adore my Amish friends, I truly think the other two varieties had a better flavor.

I think I now have all the strawberries I'll need for this season.I purchased 2 quarts for my sampling,three gallon from the Amish, and so far, I have harvested one gallon of my own berries, and will most likely have a few more coming on.I freeze some berries whole, and the rest I make up into freezer jam. We love it. It tastes just like fresh strawberries regardless of what we use it on.

I've not did enough research to know whether or not I will be able to order the Sweet Charlie or the new variety, Galletta,this fall. I am not a member of the NCSA, as I'm sure you would need to be,in order to purchase your plants from them.There is a fee to join, but I'm not sure what other requirements there might be.I will need to do some additional research.I am learning a great deal, simply be reading the materials on their website,regarding the growing of strawberries,regardless of the variety I end up planting.I suppose I will be adding this new venture to my already lengthy list of interest on my profile. I am hoping  to get many helpful tips from  folks who have been growing strawberries for awhile.

The above picture was borrowed from 123RF photos.

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