COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sweeter, fresher, juicier — so makes the mark of a good strawberry and, according to Ohio consumers, Ohio-grown berries top the competition in fitting the bill.
In a consumer taste test held recently during the "Ohio Proud Spring Fling Farmers Market Event" in Columbus, Ohio, over 400 participants overwhelmingly chose fresh-grown Ohio strawberries over the store-bought California varieties.
"The goal was to see if, in a blind taste test, consumers would choose what we believe in Ohio to be the better tasting, fresher berry," said Sandy Kuhn, berry coordinator with Ohio State University's South Centers at Piketon. Kuhn provided over 70 pounds of fresh berries for the survey.
Consumers were given a ballot and asked to mark their choice of "A" or "B" as to which berry they preferred and why. Some of the comments received on Ohio berries included "Much tastier," "Not as tart," "Sweeter," "Sweet and juicy," "Fresher" and""Tastes better." Noted Kuhn, that some of the consumers who chose the California berries provided such reasons as "Tarter," "Firmer," "Other berry is too sweet," and "Tastes like what I get at the grocery store."
"A lot of these reasons are quite contrary to what we promote in Ohio strawberries. Ohio strawberries can be allowed to ripen on the vine to give them their full sweetness and flavor as opposed to California and Florida strawberries which need to be picked early so they can be shipped and not perish during either the shipping, warehousing or retailing stages," explained Kuhn. "Fruit is a highly perishable product so the riper it is the more perishable it is. Ohio strawberries do have a good shelf life but not as good as those from Florida and the West Coast due to the picking times."
The Ohio Proud Spring Fling is an Ohio Department of Agriculture Marketing Program designed to support Ohio agricultural companies and products raised, grown or processed in Ohio. Over 20 companies participated in this year's event, held at Easton Town Center May 22-23.
Strawberry season is underway in Ohio. To locate a pick-your-own farm visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Farm Market Directory at http://www.ohioproud.org/graphics/Pubs/fmd.asp, or log on to Ohio State University's FarmToMarkets Web site at http://www.farmtomarkets.com.