It’s been 15 years in the making, but now a team of Rutgers researchers has created and unveiled a new strawberry variety.

The berry is derived from plant biology professor emeritus Gojko Jelenkovic’s 30 years of testing hundreds of varieties to develop a better-tasting strawberry.

“What we were striving for was a berry with very deep strawberry flavor,” said Bill Hlubik, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station agent.

Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
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Not only were they looking for a sweet-tasting fruit, but they were looking for a berry that local farms could produce and grow, and sell within a few days, all while packing a huge punch of flavor, he said.

It’s recommended that with this type of strawberry with a lot of flavor, it should be harvested when it’s cool early in the morning. It will retain its flavor, Hlubik said.

The variety is known as the “Rutgers D’Light."

The unique feature of the D’Light is that it’s shaped like an old-fashioned Christmas light bulb, hence the name “D’light,” Hlubik said.

Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
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Due to that shape, it is the ideal strawberry for dipping in chocolate, according to Hlubik. But if you don’t want to dip it, that’s okay because this berry has such an outstanding flavor on its own.

Rutgers D'Light dipped in chocolate (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
Rutgers D'Light dipped in chocolate (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
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The Rutgers D’Light plant produces a lot of fruit early to mid-season.

In 2015, a team of Rutgers researchers also developed the “Rutgers Scarlet” strawberry. Hlubik said this is a conventional shaped strawberry and red in color all the way through. It, too, has tremendous flavor and the plant produces a lot of berries.

“I’ve done multiple taste tests on both of our new Rutgers strawberries and they always come out on top for flavor,” he said. The Scarlet is a tad sweeter but the D’light has different types of volatile compounds that give it a distinct, unique strawberry flavor.
Hlubik said he enjoyed adding the D’Light to his milkshakes.

Some Rutgers students made strawberry jam with the D’Light berries too, he added.

Old Hightstown Brewery in Hightstown, NJ is also in the process of turning the Scarlet and D’Light berries into a couple of beers that will be sold in the near future. He said the latter will be called “Decker’s Best Strawberry D’Light, a milkshake IPA.”

Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
Rutgers D'Light (Photo Credit: Pete Nitzsche, Rutgers NJAES)
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Strawberry season is coming to an end in New Jersey. Specca Farm in Bordentown was carrying the D’Light variety but Hlubik said next year, more New Jersey growers and farmers will have the Rutgers strawberry varieties on hand.

In the meantime, residents can buy the Rutgers D’Light from Indiana Berry. If they’re planted now, Hlubik said you’ll likely have a lot of berries next season.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: