White alpine strawberries: unripe, ripe, overripe

It used to be that a ripe strawberry was a red strawberry, but things have moved on and there’s a lot more variety in strawberries these days. White strawberries, in particular, are becoming more common, and they offer up a challenge in terms of deciding when they’re ripe.

Ripeness for white strawberries is determined by size, fruit colour and pip colour – but there are differences between different types and varieties. Some have green pips that turn red when the berry is ripe, for example.

I’ve been growing white alpine (and wild) strawberries for a long time now, and I find that final fruit size can vary, even on one plant. The image above shows three strawberries from one plant – unripe, ripe and overripe, from left to right. I’m getting pretty good at spotting the obvious ripe fruits from a distance, which prompts me to go foraging under the leaves to find the hidden ones.

The ripe fruit is plumper than the unripe one, which means the spacing between the pips is greater. There’s a slight colour change to the pips, but I don’t think you’d spot that from a distance. The other way to tell is to gently tug on the fruit – if it comes away from the plant easily then it’s ripe. If it resists, then leave it a few more days. It it squishes in your fingers then it’s overripe 😉

Unless you have a lot of plants, you won’t get much fruit in one go – this is a perfect plant from which to snack whilst gardening, but some do make it into the house. I turned the latest batch into gooseberry and strawberry compote, which we’re stirring into yoghurt.

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