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How Science is Creating New Fruits

How Science is Creating New Fruits
July 25
13:12 2016

Berries, especially strawberries are the most popular fruit purchased at grocery stores. Unfortunately, a large portion of the fan-favorite cranberry’s calories is from sugar.

And since the fruit is so tart, it’s common that sugar is paired with cranberries to make it sweeter, like how dried cranberries and cranberry juice almost always contain a ton added sugars. For example, there are 26 grams, which is 6.5 teaspoons of sugar, in a cup of dried sweetened cranberries! That’s as much as a chocolate cookie.

But if you just can’t resist sweetened dried cranberries, there is hope for those of you with a sweet tooth! Cranberry breeders (yes, this is a thing!) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a futuristic cranberry that is naturally sweet.

The variety of cranberry is cleverly named the “Sweetie.”

The cranberry breeding program has been in the works since the early 1990s and its primary mission is to help growers produce better berries. However, the focus has been on getting the berries to be larger and more red and the growers weren’t expecting to develop a sweeter variety of cranberry.

“As a cranberry grower, you always hope that you’ll find that [sweet] variety, but you’re thinking cranberries are just too tart,” said Nicole Hansen, a Wisconsin cranberry grower.

She was surprised when she first tasted the “Sweetie” cranberry a few years ago. “I was excited … it had a milder taste than most fresh cranberries,” said Hansen.

So what does the futuristic berry look like? It’s a half inch wide and white in the inside. The coloring is similar to that of red wine.

As for the taste?

“The flavor is tart and faintly sweet, like a Granny Smith apple. It shares some of the aromas of a Granny Smith, too,” writes NPR.

It may not be sweet enough yet to enjoy like a cherries. “It’s just a matter of increasing that sugar level,” said Juan Zalapa, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s cranberry breeding program.

Unfortunately, the berry is still in the experimental phase. But, the “sweetie” has a ton of potential. Maybe in the not so distant future, naturally sweet raw cranberries will be a popular snack for those looking for a sweet, yet tart healthy little treat.

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Kerri Adams

Kerri Adams

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