Pineberries – all you need to know about these delicious tropical-tasting berriesbianca
When pineberries were first introduced to the world over a decade ago, this new breed of berries left people wondering if they are indeed a real fruit or a GMO crop. They were first discovered in South America at the beginning of the century and are now cultivated and sold in many areas of the world, including the UK and Unites States.
The term for pineberries was actually coined by the UK when they were first introduced to the produce market in 2010 and it referenced the German word Ananaserdbeeren which literally translates to pineapple strawberry.
If you’re still wondering what a pineberry is, or if you already know its story but wish to learn more on how to incorporate it in some delicious dishes or drinks, keep on reading. We’ll cover everything a chef needs to know about these surprisingly delicious hybrid berries.
What are pineberries?
The term used to identify these fruits gives us some indication of what they are, although that can be misleading. Therefore, before we find out what they are, let’s decide on pineberries ARE NOT: a mix of pineapple and strawberries.
Pineberries are actually a hybrid cross between the Fragaria chiloensis (aka Chilean/beach /coastal strawberry) and the Fragaria virginiana (aka Virginia/ mountain/ wild strawberry). They are small, rounded and conical just like a “regular” strawberry, but they stand out due to their mostly creamy white skin with red seeds showing through.
It’s also important to mention that contrary to popular belief, pineberries are naturally occurring through cross-pollination, not a GMO. The result is a hybrid berry, which can be grown through plants, not seeds, as is the case with all other hybrids. In terms of size, an average pineberry measures anywhere between 0.6-0.9 inches, the equivalent of a small strawberry.
People who might be interested in growing these fruits will find that they are quite high maintenance. The plants thrive under balanced weather conditions, so they should be kept away from extreme summer heat and high humidity. Since the fruits tend to be soft when they’re ripe, they’re easily bruised or damaged, which poses a challenge for shipping long distances.
What do pineberries taste like?
The “pine” in pineberry is actually a nod to the fruit’s taste, which resembles that of pineapples. The dominant flavor is still that of strawberries, with subtle pineapple overtones. They are pleasantly sweet, tart and juicy and to some, they might taste like the tropical version of a strawberry – thanks to the underlying pineapple flavor.
When are pineberries in season?
Depending on the region where they are cultivated and implicitly the growing conditions, the harvest season for pineberries can vary. Generally, pineberry season extends from late spring to early summer, according to Specialty Produce.
Where can you find pineberries?
If you’re wondering where to buy pineberries, know that they might be available for purchase at local retailers but the best way to make sure you get your hands on peak-quality, fresh fruits is through local farms and/or produce wholesalers such as Riviera Produce.
Keep in mind that since they are produced on a much smaller scale than regular strawberries, pineberries are usually more expensive.
Popular culinary uses for pineberries
Now that we have covered some ground when it comes to pineberry origin, appearance, taste and seasonal availability, it’s time to turn our attention to the kitchen and see how pineberries can be incorporated in delightful dishes and drinks. Due to their similarity to strawberries, they can be used in much the same way as their colorful counterparts.
Before discussing pineberry recipes, it’s important to mention storage. As mentioned before, once ripe, pineberries get quite soft, which makes them delicate and easily perishable. That is why it’s ideal to store them in the fridge (for 5-7 days) or freezer and only wash them shortly before consumption.
They can be a wonderful addition to both sweet and savory dishes, as well as beverages like cocktails or smoothies. They pair excellently with apples, peaches, tomatoes, vanilla, ginger, pine nuts, basil, whitefish and cheese.
Seeing as they can replace strawberries in pretty much any recipe, let’s see some popular cooking applications of pineberries:
- Frozen desserts – mix them with yoghurt and peanut butter, Nutella or any other extra ingredients
- Baked goods – add them to muffins, tarts, cakes or pies (how about a Pineberry Key Lime Pie?)
- Salads – combine with fresh vegetables and herbs (try the Spinach, Goat Cheese and Pineberry salad)
- Jams – a wise option for when you have too many ripe fruits, turn them into jam (here’s a simple recipe)
- Dressings – throw them in a blender and mix until creamy (this Pineberry and Poppy Seed recipe sounds delicious)
- Grilled or roasted side dishes – roast them and serve them alongside meat dishes (they pair well with pork)
- Consumed raw – serve as a refreshing moderately sweet snack, along with other berries or by themselves
Pineberries are still somewhat of a novelty in the produce world, despite being discovered over a decade ago. They will inadvertently attract people’s attention when spotted in the supermarket aisle or a fellow customer’s plate in the restaurant.
The story of the pineberry is still being written. This surprising fruit with a familiar yet odd appearance and tropical flavor is finding its way into many popular recipes and will continue to gain popularity as more and more people discover and understand its appeal.