Aren’t All Strawberries Red & Why Do They Have Seeds on the Outside?
Nope! Some strawberries are white. There are actually several varieties of white strawberries that ripen and never turn red. Two of the most common varieties 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 direct from nurseries that grow them.
While white strawberries from the true species Fragaria vesca and Fragaria chiloensis will grow true from seed, other varieties 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 mixture between 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 bought 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.
Technically, what we think of as a strawberry is an enlarged part of the plant called the “receptacle,” which is located adjacent to the part of the plant called the “stamen.” Usually, a fruit develops from the ovaries of a flower.
Most scientists — and all cooks — still consider strawberries to be fruits, though. Sometimes strawberries are called “aggregateaccessory fruits” since the part we eat comes from the part that holds the ovaries instead of the ovaries themselves. Scientifically, the strawberry belongs to the genus Fragraria, which makes it a close relative to the rose.
The “seeds” you see on the outside of a strawberry are actually the plant’s ovaries and are called “achenes.” Each “seed” is technically a separate fruit that has a seed inside of it. Despite all this confusion about strawberry seeds, most strawberries are not actually grown from seeds! As strawberry plants grow, they send out thin growths called “runners” or “clones.” These runners look like strings. When they reach the ground, they send roots into the soil. The roots produce new strawberry plants.