Straw­ber­ries get smart

The Weekend Post - - News -

MICHAEL MADI­GAN THEY started with a vine­gar bar­rel and pro­gressed to a farm shed and to­day they ex­port a range of prod­ucts glob­ally – a range which may soon in­clude a line of Queens­land straw­berry vine­gar.

Queens­land straw­ber­ries are not merely for eat­ing. They’re in drinks, sauces, beer, pro­tein balls and, out at Stan­thorpe in a hi-tech fac­tory run by in­no­va­tive lo­cals Ian and Robyn Hen­der­son, vine­gar.

Dr Michael Sweed­man, lead re­searcher with Aus­tralian Vine­gar, stresses the straw­berry vine­gar al­ready bot­tled at the Stan­thorpe fac­tory is still a nov­elty and not yet com­mer­cially avail­able.

“We did it purely for a few of our select cus­tomers and it was well re­ceived,’’ Dr Sweed­man said.

“But now that we know peo­ple love it we are look­ing at the com­mer­cial pos­si­bil­i­ties.’’

The Hen­der­sons’ busi­ness ven­ture was in­spired by Robyn’s mum and dad – Ital­ian im­mi­grants who kept a bar­rel at the fam­ily home to make vine­gar out of grapes.

The cou­ple soon be­gan their own vine­gar line – “Li­rah’’ – then moved their op­er­a­tion into a shed and sent off their first ex­ports to Amer­ica in 2004.

The Hen­der­sons, who opened their present mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar fac­tory in 2017 and are now a ma­jor busi­ness in the Gran­ite Belt town, are just a sam­ple of the in­no­va­tive minds across the state turn­ing their at­ten­tion to straw­ber­ryin­spired prod­ucts.

The Cairns Post is run­ning a week-long cel­e­bra­tion of our straw­berry in­dus­try, in­clud­ing a spe­cial edi­tion of Taste next week.

The State Gov­ern­ment has launched “The Sweet­est Thing” cam­paign to en­cour­age con­sumers to again en­joy the fruit, which is also grown on the Ather­ton Tablelands.

When the straw­berry sab­o­tage hit last Septem­ber brew­ers in three states – South Aus­tralia, Western Aus­tralia and Queens­land – be­gan churn­ing out straw­berry beers as a way of lend­ing a help­ing hand to the in­dus­try.

New­stead Brew­ing in Bris­bane cre­ated a straw­berry brew which proved ex­traor­di­nar­ily pop­u­lar.

LOOK­ING SHARP: Whit­ney Schoen­fisch, man­ager of man­u­fac­tur­ing at Aus­tralian Vine­gar, pours a drop of straw­berry vine­gar.

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