Mara De Bois Strawberries
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|Food Buzz: History of Strawberries|
Mara Des Bois are a variety of everbearing strawberry that produces small to medium sized fruit, about the size of an acorn. Mara Des Bois strawberries have a round, slightly conical shape and deep red color. Their exterior boasts a glossy sheen and prominent seeds. When ripe Mara Des Bois strawberries have a melting texture that lies somewhere between the delicate softness of a wild strawberry and the firmness of a conventional strawberry. Most notably they are known for their sweet flavor and intensely fragrant aroma which is reminiscent of wild strawberries.
Mara Des Bois is an everbearing type of strawberry and produces an initial plentiful crop in the spring and then subsequent crops at six-week intervals throughout the summer and into the fall.
Mara Des Bois strawberries, botanically known as Fragaria x ananassa, are a member of the Rosaceae family. Botanically speaking strawberries are the greatly enlarged stem end of the plant's flower and not actually a berry, though culinarily they are utilized as a berry. The Mara Des Bois is a relatively new French hybrid developed specifically to be an everbearing type strawberry that would offer an exceptional flavor and fragrance similar to that of the wild strawberry.
Unlike conventional supermarket strawberries Mara Des Bois contain the flavor compound, methyl anthranilate which is responsible for their richly fragrant strawberry aroma.
The extraordinary flavor and aroma of Mara Des Bois strawberries shine in fresh applications such as fruit tarts, shortcake, and crepes. Serve simply on cheese plates or with fresh cream. Mara Des Bois can be cooked down to make sauces, syrups, and fillings for macarons, croissants, sorbets, and ice cream. Macerated Mara Des Bois can also be used in beverages such as mimosas, cocktails and summer spritzers. Mara Des Bois have a very short shelf life and should be refrigerated immediately post-harvest and consumed ideally within three to five days.
In 2003 former physicist David Chelf began growing Mara Des Bois organically in custom built greenhouses in the desert region just outside of San Diego, California. The unique microclimate of the region partnered with advanced greenhouse technology allows him to grow and supply the unique French berries nearly year-round now.
The Mara Des Bois strawberry was developed in 1991 by famous French fruit breeder Jacques Marionnet in Soings En Sologne, France. Though it expresses a similar aroma and flavor profile to the wild strawberry the Mara Des Bois is actually a hybridized cross of four older European garden type strawberries; (Gento × Ostara) × (Red Gauntlet × Korona). Today Mara Des Bois strawberries are grown commercially in France and on a small yet growing scale in the United States, specifically in the strawberry growing regions of southern California. The short shelf life of Mara Des Bois does limit their distribution range to specialty stores and farmers markets in nearby growing regions and to those that can afford to have the berries shipped to them overnight. Though slightly limiting commercially this delicate nature has made the Mara Des Bois a sought after boutique strawberry as well as an ideal strawberry for the home garden.
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