Philippine Department of Agriculture – Tokyo
Is The Japanese White Strawberry Worth The Hefty Price Tag?

Is The Japanese White Strawberry Worth The Hefty Price Tag?

What Is A Japanese White Strawberry?

When I first heard the word “luxurious” to describe a strawberry, my cynicism surfaced big time. How can a strawberry be luxurious? But when I actually saw one, and thought what it would be like to eat a $10 – $20 strawberry, I can totally see why they’d call a strawberry luxurious.

These Japanese strawberries, which are a big part of the luxury fruit market in Japan, are white inside and out. Not at all unlike the Japanese black diamond watermelon. They are super hard to grow and mostly (if not only) found in Japan. Because of this, you’ll occasionally find them in very select spots throughout Canada and the USA – if you can find them at all.

They’re bred to be bigger, softer, and even sweeter than an average strawberry. There are a few varieties of this boojie fruit, but the most exclusive (yes, another puzzling adjective for a berry) is the White Jewel, also known as Shiroi Houseki.

Why Do They Turn White?

japanese white strawberry
Image: @ryotei_kisho on Instagram

The Japanese white strawberry goes by a few names, among them the “Japanese white jewel strawberry” and the “white alpine strawberry”. The mastermind behind the former is Yasuhito Teshima, who has spent years cross-breeding strawberries to achieve the desired effect of a white strawberry.

The result of his efforts is a big juicy berry that’s white on both the inside and the outside… and really, really expensive.

japanese white strawberry
Image: @daytonfoods on Instagram

The reason the strawberry is white is because growers like Teshima cut down on sunlight, which reduces anthocyanin levels. This pigment in fruits, which is naturally occurring, gives fruits and vegetables their colours.

Yet even with ten years of experimentation and research, only around 10% of the strawberries come out white. Very few are completely pale, and the rest have red or pink patches,

What Do White Strawberries Taste Like?

japanese white strawberry
Image: @chefcindyhalloran on Instagram

The taste is supposed to be delectable. Upon taking a first bite, the flavour delivers a “slight mysterious feeling” that develops into “really, really tasty” once you experience it for a while.

Often described as sweet-smelling with soft skin, the taste is reportedly comparable to a fresh pineapple. After a few seconds, the flavour turns less tropical and more like candy… but not in an overpowering way.

The sugars will leave a fresh feeling in your mouth. For $10 – $20 each, I’d hope it would leave something in my mouth, that’s for sure.

So Why Are These Strawberries So Expensive?

japanese white strawberry
Image: @wendyd.tu512 on Instagram

White Jewel strawberries have a sizeable price tag partly because of the years spent breeding them, the low number of them per crop (yield rate), the time and energy that goes into growing them, and also space. The farms which grow Japanese white strawberries also need a lot of space for them to develop properly, which further contributes to their alarming price.

Is It Hard To Find Japanese White Strawberries?

japanese white strawberry
Image: @moriko1961 on Instagram

Besides the fact that not very many strawberry farmers grow the white strawberry, there’s also distribution issues. The price, of course, also lends itself to their exclusivity. Because of this, they’re hard to find.

Your best bet is to look for them in Japan. Even a Google search didn’t show much, except that you can apparently grow them yourself with these seeds from Amazon.