Driscoll’s Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries
When you think of tropical flavors, what comes to mind? Notes of pineapple, mango, and guava perhaps? Maybe a little passion fruit? Same here.
But imagine if we told you strawberries were also on that list. Would you believe us? With the launch of our NEW Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries, tasting is believing!
We’ll let you in on a little secret: we’ve been developing these beautifully pale and delicate berries for decades now. That’s right, DECADES. Alongside our other specialty strawberries, including our Sweetest Batch™ Strawberries and Rosé Berries™, the NEW Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries are adding a third offering of deliciously unexpected flavor. What is it they say about good things coming in threes?
The Unique Flavor Profile of Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries
We recently sat down with our Global Director of Strawberry Breeding, Phil Stewart, and our Sensory Scientist, Kat Phetxumphou, to learn more about the history, the unique challenges, and the incredible flavor profile of the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry.
As with all of Driscoll’s patented berry varieties, the first focus is always flavor—and the notes and aromas of Tropical Bliss™ really set it apart from the rest. “The pineapple flavor is really prominent, which is a note that I really like,” Phil says with a smile. “And there’s some mango and guava flavors—but to me, it’s the pineapple flavor that really stands out.”
Kat, our Sensory Scientist, concurs. “The flavor is like a refreshing tropical punch on a nice hot day with many tropical fruit flavors, like pineapple, passion fruit, guavas, mangos and some of your citruses,” she says. “It’s a burst of all of these refreshing, effervescent flavors in a single berry.”
Pineberries VS. Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries
Several hundred years ago, two wild strawberry species native to the Americas were transported to a botanical garden in France, where they accidentally cross-pollinated. “These two species don’t typically cross in the wild—they’re from different parts of the continent—but they accidentally hybridized in this French botanical garden,” Phil shared. The result? An unusually pale and fragrant strawberry that eventually became known as the White Carolina variety, and later as the Pineberry—a repurposed descriptive term that is used to describe a white strawberry.
With some help from Mother Nature and good old-fashioned plant breeding, the Driscoll’s Berry Innovators got to work on developing Tropical Bliss™ drawing the best qualities of other varieties such as White Carolina and Rosé Strawberries™. Neither Driscoll’s Rosé Berries™ nor Tropical Bliss™ should be classified as a pineberry because both varieties are distinct and unique proprietary varieties that combine more than 70 years of strawberry breeding expertise. Kat gives us some additional insider info. “According to our panel of flavor experts, other white strawberries that you find in market have different flavor profiles—the flavor profile of Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries is much more complex, intensely tropical in flavor, and ultimately, refreshing.”
The Plant Breeding Journey
Phil assures us, creating the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry hasn’t been all wine and roses. “We had to overcome a lot of problems with Tropical Bliss™. Because we were going back to material that was barely domesticated, it was really low-yielding, it had a short shelf life, it was susceptible to disease and a lot of malformed fruit. We’ve done an incredible amount of work to overcome and improve these difficulties.”
Believe it or not, we have a whole team of sensory scientists, who have their own panel of 13 consumer flavor experts. “Think of wine sommeliers—but these are berry sommeliers,” Kat says with a smile. “In addition, we have objective sensory science tools to measure the appeal of a berry’s full sensory experience.” One such tool is the new Driscoll’s Strawberry Sensory Wheel™, which helps consumers capture the full sensory spectrum of tasting a strawberry, mapping out taste, texture, mouthfeel, flavor, and aroma.
Kat reiterates her team’s focus on the qualities of a strawberry that make the Driscoll’s eating experience a superior one. “We want to dig into the why—is it flavor, is it texture, is it appearance? Anything you can nit-pick in a berry,” Kat says. “We literally stare at the berries for hours, nit-picking the good and the bad qualities, and I can definitely say the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries have way more of the positive qualities.”
Still, Tropical Bliss™ is a delicate berry. “It shows bruising a lot easier—every little bit of discoloration is obvious. Every bruise is visible,” Phil says. “And if it sits on plastic, it gets a little yellow spot where moisture accumulates—but it doesn’t affect the quality or flavor at all.”
Finicky qualities aside, Phil continues to be bowled over by the berry’s intoxicating aroma. “I’m always impressed when I’ve got a crate of Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries in my car and I leave for a couple of minutes. When I come back, the perfume and the aroma of the berries has basically transported my car to a tropical island!” he says.
In addition to the flavor and aromas of the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry, their visual appeal is also important. Kat explains, “People tend to eat with their eyes, so if what they’re eating doesn’t have a vibrant color to it, they may associate that with a lack of flavor—but with the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry, it’s quite the opposite, and that’s what makes it so exciting. It’s unexpected.”
Tropical Bliss™ STRAWBERRIES FAQ
By now, we know you’ve got questions — and we’ve got answers. Here are the FAQs about our Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries:
WHERE CAN I BUY TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES?
Because of these berries’ unique characteristics, Driscoll’s Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries have a limited distribution to select Whole Foods Market locations, select Ralph’s locations, select Lunds and Byerlys locations, and select Dorothy Lane locations.
ARE MY TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES UNRIPE?
Absolutely not, and that’s a pinkie promise. These berries are simply—and naturally—a lighter color, and our harvesters are specially trained to know when to pick them for perfect ripeness. With seed coloration that’s unique to this variety, green seeds indicate that the fruit still needs more time, while seeds with a pink or red hue mean the berry is ripe and ready for eating!
For a more scientific explanation on the berry’s coloring, there’s a natural mutation that occurs in these berries that removes the presence of anthocyanin, the flavonoid compound that gives strawberries their red hue. The absence of anthocyanin makes our Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries naturally lighter in color—and naturally brighter in flavor.
HOW ARE THE TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES DIFFERENT THAN ROSÉ STRAWBERRIES™?
These two berries are different varieties—with different flavor profiles! The Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries are a proprietary white strawberry variety, while the Rosé Strawberries™ are a proprietary pale pink strawberry. From a flavor perspective, the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry has notes of tropical punch, pineapple, and passion fruit, and the Rosé Strawberry has flavor notes of sweet peach and pink lemonade with a soft floral finish.
HOW ARE THE TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES DIFFERENT THAN THE SWEETEST BATCH™ STRAWBERRIES?
These two berries are different varieties—with different flavor profiles! The Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries are a white strawberry, while the Sweetest Batch™ Strawberries are a classic red strawberry. From a flavor perspective, the Tropical Bliss™ Strawberry has notes of tropical punch, pineapple, and passion fruit, and the Sweetest Batch™ Strawberry has dialed up the flavor of a classic red strawberry, with extra sweet notes of strawberry candy and fruit punch.
ARE TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES UNIQUE TO DRISCOLL’S?
You bet they are. Almost all of our proprietary berry varieties are patented and unique to Driscoll’s. Learn more about the hard work that goes into developing Driscoll’s exclusive berry varieties.
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY TROPICAL BLISS™ STRAWBERRIES?
Our delicate Tropical Bliss™ Strawberries require extra-special care. As soon as you get home from the store, we recommend refrigerating them between 32 and 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and bringing them to room temperature just prior to enjoying them. (Room temperature makes their flavor really pop!) Because they’re softer and more tender than our conventional strawberries, they have a shorter shelf life. See a little bronzing on their skin? No biggie — they’re just delicate, and it’s a natural result of the harvesting and packing process and won’t affect their flavor. We recommend enjoying them between one and two days from purchase, and a quick rinse under cool water before snacking is all you need.