"We have started picking the first white strawberries around New Year. Harvest and sales will then continue until mid-June," says Loris Gentile, president and commercial director of Gentile Group, a cooperative in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. This group signed an agreement last October with the American company Emco Cal to become the exclusive licensee in Italy for the cultivation and marketing of the white Florida Pearl strawberry.
On the left: Umberto Stigliano (grower); on the right: Loris Gentile
"We are seeing very enthusiastic traders and a lot of curiosity among Italian and European celebrity chefs, who are eager to try our strawberries for unusual dishes. But there are also consumers who, because of food intolerances and/or allergies, consider the white strawberry as a complement to the classic red strawberry," continued the young manager.
What makes this strawberry so special in terms of color is the lack of pigmentation in the flesh and skin, but the seeds are red. Production peaks in March and April, but even in the coldest months of the year, in January and February, the plant is quite generous. White strawberries have an aftertaste of pineapple.
"We currently have one hectare in production. It will be our first real season after last year's trial. The crop is in excellent condition, despite the warm October, which slowed down its vegetative development. Now the strawberries are starting to turn out nicely in color. There is a fair amount of unripe fruit, and there are also a lot of flowers about to bloom, so we can guarantee a steady supply during the winter months. We are working with two packages, single-layer pack trays for the larger strawberries and 125-gram trays for the smaller sizes, as for the rest of our soft fruit line," concluded Gentile.