Strawberries get smart
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.