I’ve been getting flak from a couple of people for choosing to grow Elsanta strawberries. It is, they say, a tasteless, watery variety of strawberry that’s only so popular because of its shelf-life. I feel the need to defend myself:
First, Elsanta came in a collection of three varieties, designed to crop at different times. It’s not as though I chose just Elsanta. It’s there to bridge the gap between the fruit from the Honeoye and Symphony plants.
Second, commercial varieties tend to be grown not just for shelf-life but also for disease-resistance and yield. If it’s more reliable and more prolific than the other varieties we’re growing, then it may be a good choice.
Third, it’s hardly fair to judge a variety based on its quality when you buy it from a supermarket. Supermarket fruit has to be picked early so that it doesn’t go over before it’s bought; Elsanta strawberries may be much better straight from the bush.
In fact, I have it on good authority that home-grown Elsanta strawberries will be better than those in the Supermarket:
The Elsanta strawberry, the supermarket’s favourite and by far the most widely available soft fruit, is the most firmly linked in the public mind with tasteless modernity. But, as celebrity greengrocer Charlie Hicks points out, it is not entirely the berry’s fault. “If it’s grown properly it can be very tasty,” he says. “The problem is that because of the enormous pressure from supermarkets on growers to produce higher yields at lower prices, they have to use techniques that basically mean pumping the produce full of water.” [http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/jul/03/foodanddrink.uk]
Finally, as with everything else we’re growing this year, it’s just an experiment. If it doesn’t perform as well as the other varieties, then we’ll ditch it and replace it with something better.
Before I was interested in how the different strawberry varieties will compare; now I’m fascinated, and willing the Elsanta on.