This month Which? Gardening did a trial of 23 different varieties of strawberry to find the tastiest strawberries. I’m a bit jaded when it comes to trials. There always seems to be someone, somewhere doing a trial of something and alot of the results are inconclusive or skewed in some way. But this one really caught my eye. Mainly because of the sheer effort that was put in.
The trial lasted two years with over 1100 people doing the taste test. Which? planted 460 plants through permeable plastic mulch and nursed the plants through their first year. They also erected a huge fruit cage over the whole crop to keep the birds at bay.
When the strawberries cropped in their second year they took them and tromped around RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, RHS Garden Wisley and also took them to their panel of expert testers. I’m astounded at the effort, money, people and time that went in to it. I can only conclude that winners are worth taking note of. And here they are.
Best Early Strawberry:
Joint winners – Darlisette and Sallybright
Best Mid-Season Strawberry:
Best Late-Season Strawberry:
I would link to the article but it’s not available online, only in the magazine. Shame really. The photo is of my own Strawberries which I think are ‘Alice’ – they were highly commended in the taste test but didn’t win. Never-mind, they will always taste amazing to me!
Got to say I’m dubious. Where did Honeoye Cambridge Favourite, Marshmellow come in the ratings.
The most popular sherry is, I beleive, Harvey’s Bristol Cream – and I hate it. Tastes are individual things.
That kind of time, money and effort just proves how serious the British are about strawberries. Got to say, I love ’em. Thanks for the article. I’ll be looking out for Sonata next year.
A very useful article, Gillian – I’ve just been looking into replacing my strawberries for next year as I think mine are not the best. They were given to me as runners, so I don’t know the variety but now I’ll have a few named strawbs to look out for. Thank you!
..there’s no comments about location. It’s all too well for you “southerers” to debate varieties with droughts, 30 deg days, and sun.
Up here in the far NW, we have gales, salt sea spray, rain and midges..
This doesn’t put me off growing strawberries, but I have to be very careful choosing the hardiest varieties..
I haven’t managed to taste mine, the blackbirds keep getting there before me! I know I should put a fruit net up but I keep hearing that they’re malnourished because of the droughts so I feel too sorry for them to remove my strawberries from the menu!
Strawberries really seem to be flavour of the month, and there is a similar discussion about the most superior specimen on Jared Brown’s Guardian Gardening blog http://bit.ly/m0IhVQ and one type that comes out on top is ‘Cambridge’. Alas, if only I kept my seed and plant information in better order, then I’d know which type mine were – instead of just five for a fiver from B&Q – but I think like you they are ‘Alice’, and have definitely produced a successfully succulent crop.
We’ve always grown ‘Symphony’ since visiting a PYO that grew a few varieties and feeling they were the tastiest…but this is great info! We shall be trying those next year – just in time, since our plants have grown a little tired and we’ve been remiss in propagating.
In Fife I last summer I grew Mara des Bois, Symphony and Gariguette. The first was delicious, the other two sharp and frankly not worth it.
This year we’re growing Mara des Bois, Marshmellow, and two alpine strawberries: Mignonette and one other whose name escapes me. I’ll let you know how we get on.
I also grow Alice strawberries, and they’re lovely. I’m tempted to try some Flamenco’s next year as they are everbearing, meaning they’ll produce a crop early and late summer, with smaller crops in between. Can’t have enough strawberries!
Thank you for the results of the ‘Which’ strawberry test. My daughter just loves strawberries and would eat them all year round. Recently she celebrated her birthday and I baked her a cake and decorated it with strawberry (Recipe on my blog) and she insists on a strawberry cake at Christmas, which is very popular in Japan.
Wow, that must be tough… I’ll do anything to grow strawberries in my yard…
Any pick your own or supermarket/commercial variety has been bred to be tough, stand rough handling, and have a super-long shelf life. Flavour is secondary. For flavour go for ones that are no longer commercial – we have Cambridge Late Pine. Picked one day they won’t last round to the next but the flavour and texture is fabulous. Its an old variety but you can buy it from Ken Muir. New this year we grew Mara de Bois. Good in a different way. I also grow yellow fruited alpine strawberries, they taste wonderful. Avoid new varieties with names with an ‘a’ at the end is my take on the subject !!
Elsanta ….yuk….. it even sounds like loo cleaner.
I have also grown Alice in a container at the front of my house to keep them off the ground and hopefully away from the slugs. However the kids in the Avenue have spotted them so I still have to be a bit rapid. You never win someone always gets there ahead of you. I take their interest as a compliment to my gardening skills, and the obvious pleasure that a sun warmed, freshly picked strawberry provides.