|2011 has been the year of great British summer eating fruits and it is a trend that is set to continue with the arrival of fantastic eating varieties of blackberries.
The wild blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), known by many as a bramble fruit and usually gathered from hedgerows, has undergone a transformation in flavour due to cross breeding and improved growing techniques.
As a result, Kent blackberry grower Adam Shorter has seen the recent change in popularity of his blackberry crops, saying, “No longer are blackberries resigned to a pie or a crumble. New growing techniques and breeding programmes produce blackberries which are delicious to eat fresh with a little cream.”
New varieties such as Driscoll® King George™, which are just coming into peak season, and Driscoll Carmel, have been bred to produce fruits with greater sweetness and lower acidity, making them the perfect eating fruit.
Modern good eating blackberry varieties are a completely different fruit to their wild hedgerow ancestor. By growing these new varieties using a range of cropping systems and innovative cold storing techniques that delay the start of crop production, harvesting of blackberries now occurs over a long season in the UK. Growers like Mr Shorter also select slightly more mature fruit to ensure that consumers will enjoy eating this succulent and fragrant fruit fresh rather than having to add sugar and cook them.
The future of the blackberry for UK growers appears as healthy and abundant as the fruit. “Within a couple of years we expect to have in production a very new blackberry variety, which crops in late summer and autumn that eats as well as Driscoll Carmel and Driscoll® King George™, further extending the season for fresh UK grown blackberries for consumers.” Adam continued. “There has never been a better time to eat blackberries as a fresh fruit.”
Sales of blackberries as reported by the UK’s leading fruit marketing company, Berry Gardens, have soared and grown by 28.7% in the past year.
Managing Director of Berry Gardens, Nick Marston, commented: “Eating varieties of blackberries are very popular in the United States and the trend appears to be taking off in this country too.”
The blackberry is no longer a humble cooking fruit but a great eating variety that is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C and ellagic acid, which is said to have properties linked with protection against cancer.
About Berry Gardens
Based in Kent, Berry Gardens is one of the UK’s premier soft fruit and stone fruit suppliers. Founded over 35 years ago, Berry Gardens is the UK’s leading berry production and marketing group with sales in 2010 of £193 million, a market share in excess of 30% during the UK season and a year round business supplying all of Britain’s leading retailers.
As a co-operative, Berry Gardens is wholly owned by UK growers making the Berry Gardens proposition unique in the UK agricultural market.