June 19, 2014

Glancing at this photo, one might think I picked these strawberries a little too soon. Fear not! These are perfectly ripened albino versions of a highly-anticipated alpine variety. Here in the Cooking Light garden, we've grown quite a few colorful contradictions: purple carrots, yellow zucchini, and red corn. And why not? Growing our own trial garden satisfies a taste for the unusual and an eye for the extraordinary.

'

White Soul' is a wonder. Its ease to grow from seed, speediness to set fruit in the same year, and the unusual (lack of) color, make this plant a funky, fun choice. And better yet -- it sports a built-in bird camouflage! If you're tired of losing the sweetest strawberries to those birds faster to the feast, these berries are white when ripe and overlooked by the most eagle-eyed. We are growing two types of alpine strawberries, or Fragaria vesca. Grow these smaller, mounding plants as border plantings or in containers, as they do not produce runners. While they vigorously produce, the size makes them best suited for garden snacking instead of sweet preserves. Both have teensy berries that boast big flavors in pinky-nail-sized packages. 'Alpine Mignonette,' from Rebecca's Garden, is a red variety that is sweetest about a nanosecond before it turns to mush on the stem. 'White Soul' doesn't taste anything like a standard strawberry, in my opinion. Fellow gardeners describe it having a pineapple flavor, though ours seem very faintly refreshing and tart like a pineapple with nuances of pear. If you've tasted these, tell us what you think. No matter the flavor description, there is no doubt these will turn heads plated atop any summer salad or scoop of dessert. For a summer salad course, I'll try a few tossed with a lightly dressed peppery arugula salad with jicama and pecans.

 

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