1

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Freakishly sweet fruit

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 25, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Is it just me or is modern fruit freakishly sweet? I picked some berries at a local family farm outside Boston this weekend and it's nothing like what you find in the supermarket. That farm does use some pesticides I think and I have to believe that the conditions are substantially better for producing sweet fruit than what you would find in the wild. I was mostly of the opinion that fruit was ok but now I'm wondering if I should just stick to local fruit - not because of the nutrition but because it hasn't been tweaked so much like the junk that comes from CA, Chile, Argentina, etc.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:01 AM

At farmer's markets I sample the vendors for blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to find the sweetest - the variety, soil, climate, etc. all make a difference.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Green Meadows Farm about 40 minutes north of Boston has the most amazing pesticide free SWEET strawberries that we picked from the field (we must have eaten so many before we took them home). A group of us agreed they were some of the best we'd ever had. I don't know where you are getting your strawberries from but your are missing out!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 25, 2012
at 11:49 PM

My most favourites ever ever ever as an adult were my first Gariguettes when I was in Paris. 7EU for a PINT. I bought two. And then another two when I was on the train going to the mountains. Wine money for berries! I still think about them.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 25, 2012
at 11:30 PM

Classic example - the "Delicious" apple. Bleh.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 25, 2012
at 11:29 PM

And as jesuisjuba pointed out above, a lot of the varieties grown by the big corporate farms are not bred for flavor. The considerations for them are appearance, long season, ability to be grown in a wide range of climates because people like a familiar look, shipping without damage, and to some extent insect and disease resistance. Very different goals from those of local farmers who deal direct with their customers and depend on return purchases from people who like their crop, rather than the grocery store shopper who has never tasted a real strawberry.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 25, 2012
at 10:10 PM

Yep...and since they didn't ripen on the vine, when they did "ripen" in texture, the flavor was still horrible. In my SAD days, I would have dumped them in a pan with a cup or two of sugar and made jam. $7 into the compost heap, but I deserved it.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 25, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Supermarket blackberries are sour because they aren't ripe. I live in Seattle, where blackberries grow rampant; they're a common weed. In late summer I can go out and pick all I want for free, and the perfectly ripe ones are *heaven.* Anything even a little short of ripe? Forget it. The ripe ones are so perishable I have to eat or freeze them within 48 hours lest they go moldy and rot. But commercially grown ones are purposely picked underripe so they'll survive longer transport and storage times, which is why they taste so sour and nasty.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 25, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Agreed, those "freakishly sweet" strawberries are a special seasonal treat, nothing wrong with them at all. They don't ship worth a damn so you are only going to find them at stands or farmer's markets. They are what strawberries should taste like, so enjoy them, they are only here for a few weeks.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on June 25, 2012
at 07:50 PM

This is because the mass-marketed produce here is picked waaay before ripe. Some are then artificially ripened (after transport) by gassing, some (avocados and bananas especially) are just blatantly sold while still extremely green, and some of the non-climacteric fruits you just won't find in good form in a large scale operation (strawberries come to mind.)

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9 Answers

16
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 25, 2012
at 08:14 PM

Are you sure they used pesticides? Were they heirloom or hybrids? As someone who loves to "pick their own" all of these things I look for before going in.

The most important factor, IMO, is keeping it seasonal and local - as much as your budget allows. Something organic shipped in from Mexico to NY isn't going to taste as good as something just picked, right? The best tasting fruit is that which is grown to full maturity and eaten the day it is harvested.. which it sounds like you did.. so you may have gotten a real treat instead of something numb from a big box store.

I grew up with a quarter acre garden and that's where many of my snacks came from.. so I'm definitely a bit opinionated on this topic :)

Nerd Alert:

Let's take the strawberry. Strawberry growers span a great spectrum and the largest producer of organic strawberries in the US is Driscolls in California. They are a huge factory farm that added organics years ago due to consumer demand for organic products. Most times of the year they provide harvest from ever bearing plants which, IMO, often taste like nothing. A soft strawberry scent and then taking a bite, which is firm and crunchy, and there is.. nothing. They grow these varieties to keep berries in stores 11-12 months a year regardless of the ultimate quality. They can farm year round because the mild climate of their location allows it. Their berries are picked before their prime so they will ship and store well. Their goal is maximum yield at a competitive price. Their market presence is huge.

In stark contrast to this situation there is the family run stand/farm at my local farmers market that supplies me with the bulk of my strawberries. They grow a highly perishable June bearing crop and the berries are grown with taste, rather than size or yield, as the ultimate goal. The result is a beautiful tender berry with a floral bouquet and a great balance of sugar and acid. Even though the operation follows all the statutes that are necessary to qualify as "state certified organic" they don't have that certification. It would cost thousands of dollars, and they don't see the need for the piece of paper, as business is brisk without it.

Not all organics are created equal. The people behind them have different plans and visions. The species and subspecies of crops are selected for different reasons. The approach to the business plans are different. The growing areas offer different advantages and disadvantages. The seasons vary from one micro climate to the next. The farming methods are different too.

Food for thought.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 25, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Agreed, those "freakishly sweet" strawberries are a special seasonal treat, nothing wrong with them at all. They don't ship worth a damn so you are only going to find them at stands or farmer's markets. They are what strawberries should taste like, so enjoy them, they are only here for a few weeks.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 25, 2012
at 11:49 PM

My most favourites ever ever ever as an adult were my first Gariguettes when I was in Paris. 7EU for a PINT. I bought two. And then another two when I was on the train going to the mountains. Wine money for berries! I still think about them.

5
B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d

on June 25, 2012
at 07:08 PM

IMO local anything is better for more reasons than sweetness. Supporting local farmers, smaller carbon footprint, eating what's seasonal, etc.

4
Fd1c5e35538fbe2ea5eccb8acd7ae546

(496)

on June 25, 2012
at 07:33 PM

I think fruit in the US is not sweet enough.Everything else is though.Very rarely do I find fruit that is somewhat close to what I was used to in Europe.Maybe my tastebuds have changed.And fruits and veggies from a supermarket taste like plastic to me

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 25, 2012
at 11:29 PM

And as jesuisjuba pointed out above, a lot of the varieties grown by the big corporate farms are not bred for flavor. The considerations for them are appearance, long season, ability to be grown in a wide range of climates because people like a familiar look, shipping without damage, and to some extent insect and disease resistance. Very different goals from those of local farmers who deal direct with their customers and depend on return purchases from people who like their crop, rather than the grocery store shopper who has never tasted a real strawberry.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 25, 2012
at 11:30 PM

Classic example - the "Delicious" apple. Bleh.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on June 25, 2012
at 07:50 PM

This is because the mass-marketed produce here is picked waaay before ripe. Some are then artificially ripened (after transport) by gassing, some (avocados and bananas especially) are just blatantly sold while still extremely green, and some of the non-climacteric fruits you just won't find in good form in a large scale operation (strawberries come to mind.)

2
153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on June 25, 2012
at 11:07 PM

I pick wild bilberries, and wild forest strawberries (I don't know what they are called in english) in the summer, the wild strawberries are tiny, and so, so sweet, much sweeter than the cultivated large strawberries.

Bilberries, which are like wild cousins of blueberries, are a bit tarter, but still very sweet and so full of flavour.

I don't buy the whole "we cultivated fruit and berries to be sweet, and therefore they are bad, and naughty to eat etc." since the wild ones are so sweet, often times much sweeter than the cultivated stuff.

When I was a child and living in lapland we picked cloudberries ( I absolutely hate picking cloudberries, so I refuse going nowdays), and cloudberries, being northern wild berries, are also quite sweet, tart also a bit, but still heavenly sweet and tasty. So, the northern berries are sweet too.

2
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 25, 2012
at 08:04 PM

I buy local produce in season in CA that isn't mass produced for shipping all over the world and don't experience the over/under sweet issues. I was pleasantly surprised when a blackberry didn't make my jaw muscles tighten and saliva glands go into overdrive because it wasn't tart. The geek in me was super excited because it had been attached to the bush only two days before. I composted $7 in blackberries I purchased from the supermarket because they were so tart they made my ears hurt.

I'm definitely an advocate for buying local as much as possible!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 25, 2012
at 10:10 PM

Yep...and since they didn't ripen on the vine, when they did "ripen" in texture, the flavor was still horrible. In my SAD days, I would have dumped them in a pan with a cup or two of sugar and made jam. $7 into the compost heap, but I deserved it.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on June 25, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Supermarket blackberries are sour because they aren't ripe. I live in Seattle, where blackberries grow rampant; they're a common weed. In late summer I can go out and pick all I want for free, and the perfectly ripe ones are *heaven.* Anything even a little short of ripe? Forget it. The ripe ones are so perishable I have to eat or freeze them within 48 hours lest they go moldy and rot. But commercially grown ones are purposely picked underripe so they'll survive longer transport and storage times, which is why they taste so sour and nasty.

1
Cd717290eb43a6e17061f9920deed977

on June 25, 2012
at 10:47 PM

Nah, it's the local fruit that sucks right now. The growing season has been bad around Boston due to the freaky weather. This results in poor quality fruit. So sad. :(

For example, the local strawberries are yet again horrible--bland and sour. Too bad, because they look so pretty! It's been like this several years in a row.

Well grown fruit should be sweet and flavorful. That is difficult to find in the U.S.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:01 AM

At farmer's markets I sample the vendors for blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to find the sweetest - the variety, soil, climate, etc. all make a difference.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on June 26, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Green Meadows Farm about 40 minutes north of Boston has the most amazing pesticide free SWEET strawberries that we picked from the field (we must have eaten so many before we took them home). A group of us agreed they were some of the best we'd ever had. I don't know where you are getting your strawberries from but your are missing out!

0
C0237fd9e277fcef496d538beda1f35b

(287)

on June 26, 2012
at 03:16 AM

All of these seedless grapes for example, frequently lean more towards the sour side. They fiddle with them to get rid of the seeds, but it messes with the flavor. Black ones are okay...but NONE compare to the yummy seeded globe (they're giant) ones. That's the best one going.

And it's a tad difficult to find strawberries that are not giant. I think the bigger the not so sweet.

0
Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 26, 2012
at 02:23 AM

Modern fruit is indeed sweeter than wild varieties.

This is why paleo folks often eat berries and low sugar fruit, rather than the high sugar tree fruit.

Of course in the wild, one would have eaten less sugary tree fruit, which can be somewhat sweet, so if you end up with berries that are a bit more sweet, id say thats not a big deal at all.

How much nutrition is in modern fruit, even low sugar ones, could be more of an issue.

0
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on June 25, 2012
at 09:19 PM

Another thing that affects sweetness is how much moisture is in the fruit. One summer at my cousin's acreage we picked blackberries and were disappointed in how bland they were. But it had been raining a lot during the preceding few days. Other times that we'ved picked and they were great.

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