Friday, February 11, 2011
PineberriesThe Pineberry is a strawberry cultivar owned by breeder Hans de Jongh and commercialized by VitalBerry BV  in Made, The Netherlands, and publicized in Germany in April, 2009, as Ananaserdbeere, or pineapple strawberry. It is a hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis, originating in South America and Fragaria virginiana, originating in North America. The fruit flesh can range from soft white to orange and is very fragrant with a slight pineapple flavor. The plant is disease resistant, but is not very profitable. Due to small-scale farming, small berry size and low yield crop, the Pineberry has been marketed to European restaurants, bakeries and wholesale markets. It is also grown in Belize.
The berry has been dubbed the Pineberry for the UK market where it will soon be available. White strawberries are not rare; garden supply stores in the UK have other white varieties of strawberry called White Soul and White Delight.
Pineberries were bred from a wild strawberry originating in South America where it grew wild, but was nearly extinct until 2003, when a group of Dutch farmers banded together to save the plant. The Pineberry is said to have the same genetic makeup as the common strawberry. When ripe, it is almost completely white, but with red seeds. A pineberry is smaller than a common strawberry, measuring between 15 to 23 mm. They are grown in greenhouses, growing on coir like other strawberries. Pineberries begin life as green berries, then become slightly white. By the time their deeply set seeds turn deep red, the white fruit is deemed ripe.
 April Fool's joke confusionSuspicions of the fruit being an April Fool's joke were raised due to the timing of the announcement, and a number of sites launched by an internet design and SEO company named Pineberry, a few days before the announcement of the supposed near-extinct fruit. One of the websites detailed the pineberry fruit, however it is identified as Rubus sylvestris, a type of blackberry or raspberry, not a strawberry of the genus Fragaria. Another website showed a jar of pineberry fruit with clear indications that the product is in fact false. All of the websites launched by Pineberry lead back to their main page, which clearly shows that it is an internet design and system development company.
Suspicions were compounded by the fact that the only store that was offering them for sale at the time, Waitrose offered a similar product- a banana-pineapple hybrid (pinanas), that was later revealed to be an April Fool's joke.