NJ researchers have created a brand-new fruit just for chocolate lovers
It’s been 15 years in the making, but now a team of Rutgers researchers has created and unveiled a new strawberry variety.
The berry is derived from plant biology professor emeritus Gojko Jelenkovic’s 30 years of testing hundreds of varieties to develop a better-tasting strawberry.
“What we were striving for was a berry with very deep strawberry flavor,” said Bill Hlubik, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station agent.
Not only were they looking for a sweet-tasting fruit, but they were looking for a berry that local farms could produce and grow, and sell within a few days, all while packing a huge punch of flavor, he said.
It’s recommended that with this type of strawberry with a lot of flavor, it should be harvested when it’s cool early in the morning. It will retain its flavor, Hlubik said.
The variety is known as the “Rutgers D’Light."
The unique feature of the D’Light is that it’s shaped like an old-fashioned Christmas light bulb, hence the name “D’light,” Hlubik said.
Due to that shape, it is the ideal strawberry for dipping in chocolate, according to Hlubik. But if you don’t want to dip it, that’s okay because this berry has such an outstanding flavor on its own.
The Rutgers D’Light plant produces a lot of fruit early to mid-season.
In 2015, a team of Rutgers researchers also developed the “Rutgers Scarlet” strawberry. Hlubik said this is a conventional shaped strawberry and red in color all the way through. It, too, has tremendous flavor and the plant produces a lot of berries.
“I’ve done multiple taste tests on both of our new Rutgers strawberries and they always come out on top for flavor,” he said. The Scarlet is a tad sweeter but the D’light has different types of volatile compounds that give it a distinct, unique strawberry flavor.
Hlubik said he enjoyed adding the D’Light to his milkshakes.
Some Rutgers students made strawberry jam with the D’Light berries too, he added.
Old Hightstown Brewery in Hightstown, NJ is also in the process of turning the Scarlet and D’Light berries into a couple of beers that will be sold in the near future. He said the latter will be called “Decker’s Best Strawberry D’Light, a milkshake IPA.”
Strawberry season is coming to an end in New Jersey. Specca Farm in Bordentown was carrying the D’Light variety but Hlubik said next year, more New Jersey growers and farmers will have the Rutgers strawberry varieties on hand.
In the meantime, residents can buy the Rutgers D’Light from Indiana Berry. If they’re planted now, Hlubik said you’ll likely have a lot of berries next season.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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