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May 2, 2010 07:20 AM

Strawberries have no flavor anymore. Agree or disagree?

For years I've been searching in vain for strawberries which taste like they used to. Has all the sweetness been bred out of them? Of course, they're more beautiful than ever, but they're just not sweet. I bought some organic ones at the local farmer's market yesterday. They looked nice and small, but they weren't really sweet. People who've never tasted sweet strawberries think they're great, but doesn't anyone else remember that strawberries can actually be sweet? Years ago when I lived in China, we had strawberries for about 2-3 weeks a year. They were ugly and half green, but the flavor was amazing. Same goes for strawberries in Europe years ago, but I think even there they've bred the sweetness out of them. Bring back sweet strawberries!

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  1. I get really good and sweet ones at my all-local farmer's market. Tasting them was a revelation -- I remembered what they were supposed to taste like. I think you just need to look for them. Also, it's a week or two early for great strawberries in much of the US.

    1. Driscolls, the huge fruit company, packages their tasteless strawberries in scented plastic. White interior means no taste at all to me. I get great strawberries in January-March in Florida. There is an organic farm inland from me that has great ones. Alva, Florida is the location.

      I can't remember getting good tasting strawberries for years in Michigan. I did grow my own Fraises de Bois and they were instensely sweet and delicious but the rabbits and birds did play merry hell with the plants.

      25 Replies
      1. re: LilMsFoodie

        The ones we've been getting up here from the Plant City, FL area have been exceptionally good this year. I try to avoid the Discolls ones. I can't remember the name of the company I usually buy.

        1. re: onrushpam

          Driscoll's (A California based company) is a world wide supplier of several types of berries...Strawberries being one...Independent growers on 5 different continents produce berries for Driscoll...including growers in the State of Florida...Why would you try to avoid the label???? Interesting....

            1. re: JonParker

              +1. and Driscoll's blackberries are just as bad - sour and loaded with huge seeds. totally inedible.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Oh my it's not just me! I finally gave up on them and stopped wasting my money on those blackberries.

              2. re: JonParker

                You got that right! Luckily I have 2 grocery stores that carry "Limited Edition" brand of strawberries from California. They have been very good.

                I can get locally grown strawberries at my Farmer's Mkt. They have flavor.

                Driscolls aroma led me to buy them once. They may have smelled like strawberries but were flavorless. I won't buy anything with a Driscoll label

              3. re: Uncle Bob

                Their raspberries are very often the best ones I can find.

                Strawberries are all over the map, if you ask me. Some are good, some aren't so hot. They don't grow here very well, so I have to take what I can get. Obviously if everybody could grow those little Alpine ones, nobody would buy store-bought, but sadly that's not the case. I usually find strawberries to be okay-to-good, but i'm probably not that picky.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  Strawberries are all over the map

                  Agree totally...Weather plays a major role...I bought some Florida strawberries last week...totally tasteless...they rotted before I could eat them all...The berries were full of water due to heavy rain in the growing area prior to harvest...I certainly don't write off all Florida strawberries as totally tasteless...Nor do I categorically write off any label because of a bad experience. Like you said...some are good...Some are not.

                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    unfortunately, most of the Florida crops have suffered from the unusual weather this year. the citrus was awful.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      This was my 4th winter here in Tampa and the citrus was indeed awful. I'm a big fan of red grapefruit and didn't do more than take a few bites of it this last winter. So sour! I tried about 3 times through the season and got no joy.

                    2. re: Uncle Bob

                      I can absolutely write off a label because of multiple bad experiences. Driscoll's does their own hybridization and breeding, and distributes those cultivars to the farmers producing their berries. And those berries are bred for appearance, resistance to disease and shipping ability at the expense of flavor, much like commercial tomatoes.

                      If you buy your berries from smaller producers using traditional cultivars you're almost certain to get better flavor. Even under ideal weather conditions, a Driscoll strawberry is not going to come close in taste to a traditional one. It's just not something that it was bred to do.

                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        +1 Uncle Bob,

                        We lived for years in SoCal, from Sandy Eggo to Oxnard and got used to having easy access to some pretty tasty berries about 4 months running. Sort of like watermelon here in Florida, which if weather is perfect, can be good from early April through late Sept.

                        So Dude was craving some berries, and we saw some nice looking Driscolls at Sams. They're decent. And cheap. Not great, like Oxnard in May, but they're sweet enough for eating and will make some decent strawberry sauce, because the berry flavor is quite strong.

                        Rainier cherries aren't sweet enough for me this year, but the less expensive dark sweet cherries are very good, so I'm eating them. And the watermelon.

                    3. re: Uncle Bob

                      Driscoll's berries are bred for shipping. That's why they keep so well and fresh farm strawberries don't hold up more than a few days. The latter are so well worth the time and effort. And, in my experience, cheaper when u-pick.

                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        Driscoll's strawberries are typically awful. It doesn't matter how they source them, because the vast majority of what they sell is white pulp surrounded by 1mm of red color. I never buy them anymore.

                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          I can't think of one time I've purchased Driscoll strawberries that were tasty and sweet. It's all appearance. The same goes with blackberries; tasteless with huge seeds. I agree with the other replies. The best blackberries I've ever tasted were grown wild in the Appalachian mountains of N. GA...they were small & delicious. I made jam with them. Now I buy my jam from France, although I do think Dickinson's makes a good blackberry jam.

                        2. re: onrushpam

                          I've been disappointed in Fla. strawberries of late. Too often they have no smell and little taste but they look good. I'm not too far from Plant City. Unfortunately we've had freezes the last two years and the growers have pumped a lot of water on the berries to keep them from freezing. Not great for the berries and not great for the homeowners that live around the farms as their land is developing sinkholes from the depletion of the aquifer. And for what, tasteless berries.

                        3. re: LilMsFoodie


                          I'm a fellow west coast Floridian. Please tell us the name of the organic farm in Alva, Florida which supplies the tasty strawberries. Thanks.

                          1. re: gfr1111

                            don't know the name, I get them from the tomato stand at the corner of Winkler and Gladiolus in south Fort Myers. They are far superior to any I've ever gotten from Plant City. When was the last time you had juice run down your chin from eating a strawberry?

                            As Driscoll dominates most markets to the exclusion of all others, I just buy in season in Florida (which is pretty long..from Christmas until April usually) and freeze a few pounds for cooking purposes.

                            I totally agree with Jon Parker on Driscoll. Bred to ship and make those fist sized chocolate covered abominations, but not much else.

                            1. re: LilMsFoodie

                              Wow- you have a great strawb season!

                          2. re: LilMsFoodie

                            LilMsFoodie, I have to disagree re: Michigan strawberries. We get them directly from farmers one way or another (Upick, guy by the side of the road, farmers market) and they are great.

                            But I will say the absolute best ones we've gotten in Michigan were "guy by the side of the road" on the west side, near Dowagiac.

                            1. re: LilMsFoodie

                              Oh my god, Driscoll's blackberries are horrible and they taste like blood to the point where I really do feel like throwing up. Occasionally I find a few sweet strawberries per package but that's the most I can expect from this company.

                              1. re: hihihiemilia

                                It's sad that Driscoll's is located in an area that produces some really good produce. It's like they're taking up vast amounts of acreage and resources only to waste it all on such subpar results.

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  The only Driscoll's product I buy is their red raspberries at our local Publix. I've never had any complaint. However, the Dole raspberries from Kroger's are, more likely than not, prone to moldiness.

                            2. Just buy from local growers and you will find the good stuff.

                              The local berries start showing up in Oregon in June, well worth waiting for. Will be seeing some blueberries and rasberries first, some of the best available.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: duck833

                                +1. I buy all my berries locally, in season, from small farms. I buy a lot and freeze them myself. They're easy to freeze. The ones in the grocery store year-round I never even give a second glance.

                                1. re: duck833

                                  I hope you are right because I bought OR strawberries (I live in WA) last year,
                                  and wasn't too pleased. I grew some of my own, and they were sweet, but I have severe arthritis, so I can't grow enough to use for a cake or anything on that scale. I can just get 2 or 3 in a day here and there. I'm going to give OR strawberries one more chance anyway. Ditto on blackberries.

                                2. Don't know where you are located. Here in Southern New England, there are no strawberries worth eating until about the first of July.

                                  Off season fruit that travels a great distance may look pretty, but is lacking in taste.

                                  1. I would have certainly agreed, until this husband heard that the CA crop was both ridiculously abundant AND delicious, and--although suspicious of these giant honkers appearing in the stores--I tried some, and he was right!

                                    Now, that said, the only ones that REALLY have true strawberry flavor, though, come straight from my (sadly too small) backyard strawberry patch. :-)