Flavor Investigator: Strawberry

This week’s article will move on to discuss the flavour of one of the most popular fruit flavour – the strawberry. This well known fruit is a hybrid species of the of the genus Fragaria x ananassa. Strawberries are popular because of it’s characteristic colour, pleasant flavour and nutritional qualities. Although it can be consumed fresh, the strawberry can be found in a variety of different applications such as preserves, fruit juices, pies, ice creams and even chocolates.

It is hard to believe that the humble strawberry is more complex then it may seem. The aroma alone is known to contain more than 360 volatile compounds. These volatile components consist of esters, ketones, terpenes, furanones, aldehydes, alcohols, and sulfur‐containing compounds. Some example of these components include furaneol, methyl butanoate and linalool.

Important Factors Which Determine Strawberry Flavour

What largely determines the strawberry flavour is the balance between the acids and sugars of the fruit. As strawberries ripen, their sugar content rises from about 5% in unripe green berries to 6-9% upon ripening. The acidity of the fruit in contrast is a result of the levels of citric acid, malic and ellagic acid present within. As the strawberry continues to ripen the amount of acidity decreases causing the strawberry to taste sweeter.

Fresh strawberries contain a combination of fruity, caramel, spice and green notes. A green note is a characteristic note used to describe that leafy sometimes woody or smoky sensation you taste with fruits and vegetables. Depending on the location of where the strawberry is grown they may have a strong pineapple flavour due to components such as methyl butanoate which are composed of the fruit. Sometimes this can even be perceived as a hint of cotton candy flavour.

If you ever have had an opportunity to taste some fresh wild strawberries, you will notice that it has a different flavour then ones purchased in the grocery store. Wild strawberries have flavor notes in common with wild grapes and have a distinct, spicy clove character. This difference in flavours can be attributed to the range of flavour molecules which are present in modern varieties. Wild strawberries such as the musk strawberry and wood strawberry produce a larger amount of flavour chemicals then the traditional varieties found in grocery stores.

Similar to what was mentioned in the vanilla article, different areas in the world have different preferences of the flavour of strawberry which they consume.  In the United States, consumers tend to prefer strawberry products which are generally sweet and slightly jammy. The French however prefer strawberries with for a pronounced jasmine note while the Spanish prefer a “strawberry jam” taste is for strawberry jam

Potential Flavour Combinations

  • Strawberry and Vanilla- Vanilla seems to be popping up everywhere but rightfully so. Vanilla complements strawberry due to it’s floral flavour which brings out the sweetness in the strawberries.
  • Strawberry and Cinnamon- Due to the presence of chemicals esters, strawberries may have hints of a cotton candy like flavour. Due to the nature of cinnamon it is able to pair well with fruit to transform the flavour into something warm and slightly spicy. To try this combination yourself, make a warm strawberry jam sandwich and sprinkle some cinnamon in between the pieces.
  • Strawberry and Soft Cheese– Although this might seem like a surprising combination at first it surprisingly works. Strawberry cheesecake exemplifies this combination. The reason why these flavours work together is that they both have buttery and creamy notes. This is also why strawberries pair so well with dairy.
  • Strawberry and Basil- Basil has flavour notes of sweet, aromatic and slightly spicy. This spiciness is able to withstand the sweetness of strawberries and provide a unique flavour combination.


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