Revived, ancient pineberries are more nutritious and delicious than red strawberries. You’ll be hard-pressed to find them in the grocery store, but they’re easy to grow.
Around 1650 a sailor brought the first tiny red strawberries from North America to Europe (known then as red scarlets). About a century later, another European sailor brought home the first white strawberries from South America.
It was around that time, 1750, that the two strawberry species spontaneously crossed and created the mother of all modern strawberries: Fragaria Ananassa. Her seedlings came in two varieties: red and white.
The white berries were female and came to be known as pineberries, while the red berries were male and came to be known as strawberries.
Because the red strawberries were self-pollinating and produced higher yields, they became the dominant commercial berry, while pineberries nearly disappeared from existence.
Pineberries first became popular within the last 20 years, after Dutch breeder Hans de Jongh created a patented variety called “Natural Albino,” (through selective breeding, not genetic modification.)
The delicate berries have a pale whitish pink flesh with red seeds, the opposite of the traditional red strawberries with yellow seeds.
Their flavor is reportedly a cross between red strawberries and pineapple.
Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants, some say pineberries are more nutritious and flavorful than regular strawberries.
A decade after their debut, the British grocery store chain Waitrose just announced the berries are back by popular demand.
Because of their smaller yields and short-shelf life, you’ll be hard pressed to find pineberries in U.S. grocery stores, aside from a few specialty grocers in New York,
Luckily, they’re easy to grow. Here are some tips from NaturalLivingIdeas.com:
Growing pineberries is very similar to growing strawberries, except they won’t grow on their own.
Pineberries need strawberries nearby to pollinate them.
Interspersing pineberries with a large variety of red strawberries will ensure your pineberries grow, as well as lengthen the season for your strawberries.
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Pineberries do well in USDA hardiness zones 4-8, throughout most of the United States, and can be grown in pots indoors to protect against extreme weather.
They need good drainage, yet to remain moist at all times.
Use a good quality soil mix intended for strawberries, or make your own with:
10 parts sterile potting soil
10 parts peat moss
8 parts perlite
4 parts compost
1 part sand
Being woodland plants, pineberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Position your pots or patch where they will get 6 hours of direct sunlight or 8-10 of bright, indirect light.
Space the plants 12 inches apart from one another to make room for runners.
Feed with liquid fertilizer throughout the summer.
Harvest when they get round and pale pink.