Do All Strawberries Have the Same Color?

Let’s play a quick game of answer as quickly as possible. Where do you sleep? In a bed! If you’re not alive, what are you? Dead! What is the color of a strawberry? Red!

That last question was actually a trick question. If you answered red, you’re like most people. But are all strawberries red? No! Some strawberries are white.

And, no, we’re not referring to the unripe strawberries that change from small green berries to larger white berries that eventually turn red when they’re ripe. There are actually several types of white strawberries that ripen and never turn red.

Two of the most common types of white strawberries are white subspecies of Fragaria vesca (also known as the Alpine strawberry) and Fragaria chiloensis (also known as the Beach, Coastal, Chilean, or South American strawberries). They are grown in many areas and can be found in some stores or ordered online directly from nurseries that cultivate them.

While white strawberries from the true species Fragaria vesca and Fragaria chiloensis will grow true from seed, other types of white strawberries are the result of hybrids. For example, pineberries are a Fragaria x ananassa hybrid that result in a white strawberry with a taste that some believe is a combination of strawberry and pineapple.

Another white strawberry hybrid is the rare White Jewel (also known as Shiroi Houseki) created recently by Yasuhito Teshima from Japan. The result of years of cross-breeding varieties under special low-light conditions, the White Jewel is larger and whiter than other specialty breeds of white strawberries in Japan.

Want to try a White Jewel? It’s going to cost you! They sell for about $10 each and can be found in department stores rather than grocery stores. They’re usually purchased by the Japanese as special gifts rather than a sweet treat to eat at home.

So what makes white strawberries white? The answer lies in what they lack. Regular red strawberries make use of a special ripening protein called Fragaria allergen A1 (or Fra a1) to turn from white to red when they ripen.

White strawberries contain very little to no Fra a1, which means they ripen but stay white. The protein they lack is also the protein primarily responsible for strawberry allergies. As a result, some individuals with strawberry allergies can eat white strawberries without any problems.

If you enjoy gardening, growing white strawberries in containers might interest you. Although white strawberry plants tend to produce fewer and smaller berries compared to regular strawberry plants, the berries they do produce can have particularly sweet flavors.

As an added bonus, you might not have to worry about birds stealing your berries. Most birds tend to ignore white strawberries because they don’t turn red, which usually signals when they’re ripe and ready to eat!

Give It a Try

Are you ready to savor some strawberries? Don’t forget to explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Invite an adult friend or family member to accompany you on a visit to a nearby grocery store that offers a wide variety of fresh fruits. Make sure to choose a store that has a good selection of strawberries. What types of strawberries can you find? If you come across some white strawberries, buy a few to take home and try. If possible, also purchase some regular red strawberries for comparison. Which ones taste better?
  • Consider the different kinds of fruits that you enjoy. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors. If you could combine any two fruits to create a hybrid with a specific shape, size, and flavor, what would it be? For example, how about a green fruit the size and shape of an orange but tastes like a grape? Or what about a red fruit the size and shape of a pineapple but tastes like watermelon? Let your imagination run wild and have fun!
  • Feeling tempted by strawberries now? We certainly are! Take a look at 10 Easy and Healthy Strawberry Recipes for Kids available online. Choose one or two recipes to try at home. Make sure to get plenty of assistance from an adult friend or family member. What kind of delicious dessert will you create?

Sources of Wonder

  • https://strawberryplants.org/2011/03/white-strawberries/
  • http://www.odditycentral.com/foods/white-jewel-the-japanese-white-strawberries-worth-their-weight-in-gold.html

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