The Pleasantly Aromatic Strawberry That Should Be On Your Radar

Have you ever gone strawberry picking in the summer? If you have, you know that ripe red berries plucked from the vine are an entirely different beast than the kind sold in Driscoll's boxes at the supermarket. If you haven't, you should make it your mission to visit a strawberry farm the next chance you get. Wild strawberries are smaller, juicier, sweeter, and decidedly more heavenly than the big-brand ones sold throughout the year, which are mostly grown in California and Mexico. 

Like most fruits and vegetables, strawberries come in countless varieties. The most common one in the United States is the garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa), but developers throughout North America, Europe, and Australia have been trying to breed better berries in recent years. Perhaps you've heard of the Instagram-famous Oishii Omakase Berry, a strikingly flawless-looking variety that's "perfectly ripe," "always in season," and sold in pristine boxes that look like they were air-dropped from a strawberry-shaped vault in the sky. 

Another variety to look out for is the Rosa Linda, which is known for its sweet aroma. And unlike the Omakase Berry, you can pick it yourself (depending on where you live).

Rosa Linda berries are sweet and fragrant

The Rosa Linda, or "pretty rose" in Spanish, is a millennial. It was developed in 1990 at the University of Florida's Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, as a hybrid of the Sweet Charlie and Oso Grande varieties. On a scale of 1-15, a panel of 12 judges gave the Rosa Linda a 10.7 for color uniformity; an 8.4 for flavor intensity; a 7.7 for sweetness; and an 8.8 for firmness. Of all its merits, however, the Rosa Linda is mostly known for its floral smell. According to Florida Foundation Seed Producers, the medium-sized berry is named for the "pleasant rose aroma" that bursts from its flesh when one takes a bite. 

As you might guess, the Rosa Linda is most abundant in Florida. But thanks to patenting obtained in the late 1990s, the cultivar is sold throughout the United States, parts of Canada, and beyond. 

Other sweet options

If you're having a hard time tracking down Rosa Linda strawberries, there are lots of great backup options. If sweetness is your top priority and you're reading this in the early summer months, keep an eye out for a June-bearing cultivar like Honeoye, which is particularly resilient against cold temperatures. You'll mostly find it growing in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, but it's sold throughout the country.

If you're looking to grow your own sweet variety of strawberries but you've never picked up gardening gloves before, Sparkle strawberries are a great variety to start with. Like the Honeoye, they stand up well against frost and cold. 

No matter what you choose — even if it's whatever you can find at the store — it's hard to go wrong with one of nature's tastiest fruits. If you're only option is a less-than-perfect pint of overripe berries, you can always puree them and turn them into homemade strawberry jam