Text: CUINA MAGAZINE Photo: Anna Garcia Frigola
Magic of Maresme
Strawberries are the star product of the coastal area to the north of Barcelona
The Maresme strawberry is characterised by its intense red colour, its sweet taste with just a hint of acidity, its firm fleshy texture and its pleasant aroma, especially when freshly harvested. The microclimate in the hills o f the coastal Maresme region is ideal for growing quality strawberries and the slopes ensure plenty of sunlight and excellent drainage.
Known for their quality, four varieties of strawberries are grown in the area just north of Barcelona: Pájaro (probably the best known), Albion, Gaviota and Monterrey. Although each variety of strawberry is harvested at a different time, Maresme strawberries can be harvested beyond the spring, through May and into June. This was a deliberate planting strategy to avoid strong competition from other domestic producers.
Yet where time is against Maresme strawberries is that they need to reach the table in the shortest time possible after being picked. This is because their extra quality comes in part from them being harvested at the optimum ripening point, and such ripe strawberries do not last long before spoiling, at most 36 hours.
The cultivation of strawberries in the Maresme region dates back to the 1970s, and it reached its peak in the early 1980s, when 80% of strawberry production in Spain was in Maresme. However, this dominance did not last long as strawberries from Huelva and Morocco began to provide competition and many farms disappeared from the area in the 1990s. The production of Maresme strawberries survived, however, and today they have found their own niche in the market as a luxury, high-quality seasonal product.