The Real Reason White Strawberries Are So Expensive
Chomping down on sweet, juicy strawberries is one of those simple pleasures in life (though you might want to soak them in salt water first). June is peak strawberry season for most of the U.S., so summer is officially even better (via Epicurious). But there’s a very special type of strawberry that you’re unlikely to find anywhere in the country — the white strawberry.
If you’ve never tried or even heard of a white strawberry, you’re not alone. White strawberries are strawberries with white flesh (hence the name), red seeds, and usually some pink patches. They are bred to be bigger, softer, and sweeter than the average strawberry (via Spoon University). This fruit shouldn’t be confused with pineerries, which are a distinct variety of strawberry that is also white in color (via StrawberryPlants.org).
The white strawberry is mainly found in Japan, where it’s a fixture within the luxury fruit market. There are several varieties of the special fruit in the Asian country, but the most popular type is the White Jewel, or Shiroi Houseki, which is the rarest and most expensive among them all.
The mastermind behind the White Jewel is Yasuhito Teshima, who said he spent years cross-breeding different kinds of strawberries and improving his growing technique — resulting in a sizable strawberry that’s white on the inside and the outside (via Oddity Central).
Why white strawberries are so expensive
Teshima claims that though this particular type has some competition from the other varieties of white strawberries grown in Japan, it’s really not much of a contest. The White Jewel is significantly larger and whiter than any other breed, he says. And his farm in the Saga Prefecture in Japan is apparently the only place in the world that produces the one-of-kind luxury strawberry.
The white color of the strawberry’s flesh is achieved by cutting down sunlight exposure, which in turn reduces anthocyanin levels. This naturally-occurring pigment is what gives fruits and vegetables their hue. However, Teshima is still working on developing his technique. Even after his many years of conducting experiments on strawberries, only 10 percent of them turn out white, and only a few of these are completely pale. The rest have red or pink patches, or have a milky pink color. When a White Jewel is fully developed, it won’t turn red, even under direct sunlight.
White Jewel strawberries have a heftier price tag on them when compared to conventional red strawberries because of a few different factors: the years spent breeding them, their low yield rate, the labor-intensive growing process, and space. Even though these strawberries are not gigantic, the farm needs to allot a lot of space for them to develop properly.
The price of white strawberries
The White Jewel is more pricey than a regular red strawberry. Just one (one!) costs $10! In contrast, a whole 16-ounce pack of organic red strawberries might cost around $6. A small pack of White Jewels is priced at $40, which would burn a hole in anyone’s wallet.
What do white strawberries actually taste like? Teshima said the flavor is something deep that doesn’t have a huge impact at first, but delivers a “slight mysterious feeling” that is “really, really tasty” once you understand it. Others have described white strawberries as sweet-smelling with soft skin. Once you bite into one, the taste is similar to fresh pineapple at first. This tropical flavor apparently goes away after a few seconds and then turns sweet like candy but not in an overpowering way. The strawberry’s natural sugars don’t linger in your mouth and instead leaves a fresh finish.
Because the flavor of the White Jewel is so unique and delicious, and the fruit is very expensive, these white strawberries are purchased to give as gifts for special occasions instead of everyday snacking. Surprisingly, this white strawberry is not the costliest type of strawberry. That title goes to the Kokota breed, a red strawberry that is priced at $22 for just a single berry.
If you've never tried or even heard of a white strawberry, you're not alone. White strawberries are strawberries with white flesh (hence the name), red seeds, and usually some pink patches. They are bred to be bigger, softer, and sweeter than the average strawberry (via Spoon University).
What do you think of when you hear the word “strawberry?” You think of springtime fun, the first harvest of the year, and, above all else, plump and juicy RED fruit with an exquisite taste, right? Strawberries are synonymous with the color red. However, what is not known by most is that there are numerous white strawberries as well. In fact, some entire species of Fragaria are white.
If you want to learn about the different types of white strawberries, grow them, or buy the plants quickly and easily, you will be able to do so quickly and easily with the information available on Strawberry Plants .org. This page is your gateway to everything related to the white strawberry and white strawberry varieties.
Why Are White Strawberries White?
To understand why white strawberries are white, it is best to understand why red strawberries are red. In the life cycle of strawberries, the flowers turn into small, pea-sized green strawberries. They grow as small green strawberries until they reach a certain size and maturity. They then turn white. As they continue to mature, strawberries which are red when fully ripe make use of proteins to turn from white to red.
One of the primary ripening proteins is called Fra a1. Strawberries containing this protein redden into the familiar appearance as they reach full ripeness signaling their readiness to be consumed. Most white strawberries are either deficient or completely lacking this protein. So, even when they are ripe, they remain white instead of turning red. Their strawberry genetics don’t allow them to become red. So, the reason white strawberries are white is simply because they lack the ability to turn red.
White Strawberry Allergy?
The protein related to ripening (Fra a1) is more completely known as Fragaria allergen A1. This protein is thought to be the one primarily responsible for strawberry allergies. Consequently, it may be possible for an individual with a strawberry allergy to consume white strawberries without negative side effects or allergic reactions. Of course, if you have such an allergy, only try eating a white strawberry under medical supervision.
Types of White Strawberries (White Strawberry Varieties)
There are multiple types of white strawberries. White strawberry varieties include white subspecies of Fragaria vesca (more commonly known as the Alpine Strawberry); Fragaria chiloensis (more commonly known as the Beach, Coastal, or South American Strawberry); the Pineberry; and few others. A brief overview of each of the major types of white strawberries follows:
White Alpine Strawberries
Alpine strawberries are wild strawberries of the species Fragaria vesca. White alpine strawberry varieties include: Albicarpa, Krem, Pineapple Crush, White Delight, White Giant, White Solemacher, and White Soul. Most of these varieties are available for sale. You can order them from supplying nurseries by clicking the links in the next section.
White Beach Strawberries
White beach strawberries are also known as coastal strawberries, wild strawberries, Chilean strawberries (Frutilla Chilena) and South American strawberries. All of these white strawberries are members of Fragaria chiloensis. This species of strawberry was instrumental in the cross-breeding that resulted in the large, red, plump strawberry varieties available today. To learn the history of the development of the modern-day strawberry, read it on the Strawberry Plant page. These can also be purchased at the links below in the next section.
Pineberries are also a type of white strawberry. However, if they are ripened in the sun, they will often gain a pinkish hue. Because of this, those with strawberry allergies should not risk consuming them as they likely still contain at least some quantities of Fra a1. The pineberry is Fragaria x ananassa hybrid, just as is the typical red garden strawberry. However, the genetics passed down in the cross have resulted in a unique pineapple-strawberry flavor and white fruit. Use the links below to purchase these also.
Other White Strawberries
Another commercially available white strawberry variety is ‘Keoki’ which is a Fragaria x ananassa hybrid like the pineberry, but without the pineapple taste. Offered for sale by Lassen Canyon Nursery, it can also be purchased by clicking the links in the following section. Fragaria virginiana white strawberris are also available from Edible Landscaping Online. If you are aware of any other white strawberries for sale anywhere, let us know!
Buy White Strawberries
You can buy white strawberries by clicking the following links. Each will take you a table of all the known sellers of that particular variety on the Buy Strawberry Plants directory. All strawberry varieties, not just the white ones, are also available there.
Benefits of Growing White Strawberries
There are several benefits of white strawberries. First, the Alpine varieties have an exquisite taste and aroma. Also, there are unique strawberry flavor accents that can be experienced with the pineberry. Also, the true species (Fragaria vesca, Fragaria chiloensis) will grow true from seed since they are not hybrids. You will not, however, be able to grow true plants from either Keoki or Pineberry seeds since they are hybrids.
Another added benefit of the pale relatives of red strawberries is that our feathered friends don’t pay them as much attention. Birds can decimate a strawberry patch. As soon as they start turning red, they start turning birds’ heads too. Birds will often ignore white strawberries so that you get more fruit with less fight!
Drawbacks of the White Strawberry
Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to growing white strawberries. They typically produce fewer and smaller strawberries. Especially compared to the most popular commercial varieties for sale today, white varieties of strawberries simply produce less. That is the most significant drawback for a gardener looking to maximize harvest from a given garden space.
Also, some critics claim that both the Beach Strawberry and the Pineberry have a less than stellar taste profile, with many berries tasting bland or watery. Don’t put too much stock in the critics if you are interested in trying to grow your own white strawberry plants, however. There are many more anecdotal reports of delicious harvests than displeasing ones.
White Strawberries: Conclusion
Why not take the plunge for your garden this year? Research the various types of white strawberries, map out some garden space, and take the plunge! Planing new fruits might just allow you to find a new favorite. Taking a chance on some of the varieties listed on this page will most likely turn out to be a good decision…a very good decision indeed!
Learn everything about types of white strawberries here. Buy white strawberries & white strawberry varieties. Growing white strawberries white is awesome!