If you wanted me to name the best fruit ever, my first guess would have to be the humble strawberry. Okay, so maybe they’re not the most exotic kind of berry out there, not when you can find stuff like dragonfruit, starfruit and durians in the produce aisle of plenty of supermarkets these days.
But for me, there’s something about them that is simple and pure. Their taste is sweet and distinct: not too cloying but not at all tart, and they have a soft texture that makes them the perfect addition to any existing dessert, whether it be ice-cream, yoghurt, a hot pie or just mixed with cream. And of course, they have a totally appetising appearance: heart-shaped, dotted with seeds, and a rich rosy red colour. Yummy.
In fact, the colour red is so strongly associated with Strawberries that any botanical deviation from their predominant hue would probably be considered an act of horticultural sabotage by all and sundry. In today’s market, when crops of domesticated have been selectively bred to be more or less similar, and foot painters have given us an idealised vision of what ‘natural’ organic produce is supposed to look like, a lot of our staple fruit looks pretty much homogenous … which is why you’ll probably be surprised to learn that a certain strain of Japanese strawberry never turns that vivid, luscious shade of red we love so much. Instead it ripens towards an eerie pale white; which makes it look downright unrecognisable!
It turns out that lately Japan have managed to cultivate these weird white strawberries. This unconventional food trend has been featured on a number of Japanese social media sites, but don’t think that you could pick some up at Walmart anytime soon. White strawberries are also called “White Jewels”, and are currently quite a rare delicacy. They’re also referred to as hatsukoi no kaori in the media which translates to “Scent of First Love.” The fruit is the brainchild of Miyoshi Agritech Co., which has been creating new strains of strawberries over the last twenty years.
Apparently, the inside of the fruit is also white, while the seeds on the exterior are but the seeds are red. Weird. But you’re probably worried about what these bizarre berries actually taste like? Have they been diluted, turned into a lily-white imitations of their former selves? Apparently not! Japan Today describes them as actually tasting stronger and better than regular strawberries.
John Daub, who runs the blog OnlyinJapan.tv, had the opportunity to sample a White Jewel, and reports the following: “The skin is very soft. The first bite is juicy with a initial taste like fresh pineapple—but that disappears after a couple of seconds. It gets sweet like candy. Not too overpowering. Unlike candy, the natural sugars don’t stay in your mouth and leaves a fresh aftertaste.”
But you might want to be careful about buying them in bulk. White Jewels are much larger than normal strawberries, are are usually sold individually as a gift for special occasions, such as weddings or birthdays. Furthermore, they typically cost approximately $22 apiece, so trying to eat a whole punnet of them will probably bankrupt you very quickly.