Vanilla in Strawberries? Scientists Find a First

Strawberries and cream go well together. Turns out strawberries and vanilla have a connection, too, not really discovered until now. University of Florida scientists have found ethyl vanillin — an aroma compound in many artificial vanilla-flavored food products — in a UF/IFAS-bred strawberry. The find could be a game-changer for the food and beverage industry.


Vanilla beans contain the character-impact compound vanillin, which imparts vanilla flavor. Ethyl vanillin provides an even more powerful vanilla-like flavor, researcher say. It is synthesized in labs and is one of the most widely used artificial flavors in the food, beverage, food supplements, and pharmaceutical industries. Finding ethyl vanillin in a strawberry could prove valuable for the flavor and food industries in the quest of offering consumers more natural flavors. ‘gehh’

In the new study, UF/IFAS scientists extracted 131 aroma compounds from the ‘Medallion’ strawberry. ‘Medallion’ is a UF/IFAS-bred variety that was commercialized in 2020. Both vanillin and ethyl vanillin were detected in the fruit.

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UF/IFAS Professor and strawberry breeder Vance Whitaker says they already knew that ‘Medallion’ strawberry occasionally had a faint flavor of vanilla. But the in-depth research confirmed it.

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“‘Medallion’ would have great flavor, even without these two compounds (vanillin and ethyl vanillin) due to its high sugars and all the other aroma compounds. But the fact strawberries can have a vanilla flavor is cool, and the fact that ‘Medallion’ has this makes it even more of a premium strawberry. “Ultimately, this feeds into the breeding program to make the flavor of our new varieties even better.”