The Best Tasting Strawberries: Your ULTIMATE Gourmet Japanese Strawberry Guide

The Best Tasting Strawberries: Your ULTIMATE Gourmet Japanese Strawberry Guide

You’ve decided to delve into the world of gourmet Japanese strawberries, but you’ve found that there are so many delicious varieties to choose from, it’s mind-boggling! How does one choose what variety to try first?

Have no fear, Ikigai Fruits is here! We’ve put together this easy sampler guide to our favorite Japanese strawberry varieties so you know exactly what you’re getting before it goes into your cart.

Which strawberries are the most flavorful? 
What type of strawberries are some of the sweetest? 
Where is the sweetest part of a strawberry?

We’re here to help answer these big questions.

First, here’s a taste map for those who want to get the big picture from the get-go:

A. Reikou
B. Yayoihime
C. Benihoppe
D. Yotsuboshi
E. Mouikko
F. Tochiotome
G. Kotoka
H. Awayuki
I. Sagahonoka
J. Haruhi
K. Ichigosan
L. Oi-C Berry
M. Berry Pop Suzu
N. Pearl White
O. Amaou
P. Kaorino

Believe it or not, these are only a portion of all Japanese strawberry varieties which add up to over 300! Today, let’s take a closer look at 7 of our favorite strawberry varieties and we’ll guide you through what each one tastes like.

1. Amaou

Meaning: An acronym for what the farmers believe make quality strawberries: Amai (sweet), Marui (round), Okii (big), and Umai (delicious)
Origin: Fukuoka Prefecture

Often called the “king” of strawberries in Japan, Amaou is characterized by its large size compared to other varieties. A single Amaou strawberry can cost up to $101! Despite its priciness, it remains a popular choice for gifts because of its irresistible flavor.

Many say these are some of the sweetest strawberries you’ll ever eat. What’s interesting is that their average sugar content isn’t incredibly high compared to other varieties. However the balance of sweetness and acidity is so perfect that many people perceive it to be sweet. Each bite is delightfully satisfying, overflowing with juice.

2. Benihoppe

Meaning: Crimson Cheeks 
Origin: Shizuoka Prefecture

Benihoppe is named for their dazzling red color and deliciousness that almost makes your cheeks fall off. They’re the kind of treat that have you grinning from ear to ear. Known for having a more elongated, conical shape, these vivacious red strawberries melts in your mouth like freshly-made jam. This variety has high levels of both sweetness and acidity, with an aroma reminiscent of roses.

3. Tochiotome

Meaning: Tochigi Maiden
Origin: Tochigi Prefecture

Introduced to the world in 1996, Tochiotome is the most widely produced strawberry variety in the “Strawberry Kingdom”, also known as Tochigi Prefecture. The land’s long exposure to powerful sunlight even in winter and its major temperature difference between night and day allows the perfect growing conditions for these local jewels2.

A meticulously cultivated blend of sweet notes amplified by tartness makes Tochiotome strawberries a favorite among Japanese consumers. It has its place right in the center of the tasting chart!

4. Pearl White

Meaning: The skin of these strawberries is as pure white as precious pearls 
Origin: Nara Prefecture 

The Pearl White strawberry was developed in 2015 by Koki Maeda, one of our partner farmers. From its appearance, some people may think it’s an unripe strawberry, but it’s completely ripe.

Normal strawberries contain a pigment called anthocyanin which makes the strawberries turn red when exposed to sunlight. However, Pearl White strawberries lack this pigment. That’s why  it remains white even at its peak ripeness.

Its distinct white exterior makes it a visual marvel as well as a completely unique taste experience. The Pearl White strawberry is all about the sweetness, with minimal acidity and fragrant aromas. Biting into one of these strawberries is as satisfying as biting into a delicate pastry.

5. Awayuki

Meaning: Light Snow 
Origin: Kagoshima Prefecture

A tender pink strawberry with a matching delicate flavor profile and hypnotizing aroma. A soothing splash of pink that looks like it was kissed by freshly fallen snow. Awayuki strawberries are a fantastic variety for anyone looking to experiment with subtle Japanese flavors.

6. Kotoka

Meaning: Splendor of the Old Capitol 
Origin: Nara Prefecture

From the ancient city of Nara comes a modern farming innovation in the form of the Kotoka strawberry. This variety is all about the rich, juicy sweetness. Their brilliant ruby-red coloring and taut red skin makes for a satisfying firmness in every bite.

7. Yotsuboshi

Meaning: Four Stars 
Origin: Developed from the collaboration of Mie Prefecture, Kagawa Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, and the Kyushu-Okinawa Agricultural Research Center.

Named for their 4-star quality, Yotsuboshi is an umami-rich strawberry variety that practically melts in your mouth. An eagerly sought-after delicacy by culinary professionals around the world, Yotsuboshi strawberries possess a soothing flavor that effortlessly blends tartness and sweetness.

How to eat a strawberry for the best taste experience

You can often find a number of these varieties topping gourmet desserts from strawberry shortcakes to parfaits, but the true luxury of Japanese strawberries is that they are at their most delicious when consumed right out of the package just as they are.

Here's a step-by-step guide on our recommended way of eating a strawberry:

  1. Wash the strawberries with the stems still attached.
  2. Gently pat them dry.
  3. Remove the stem right before you're ready to eat.
  4. Eat the strawberry in 2 bites. Take your first bite from the top near the stem and your second bite towards the bottom tip.

Make sure you start with the top of the strawberry (where the stem was) and work your way down to the point. Strawberries tend to hold most of their sweetness at the tip so starting from the base ensures every bite is sweeter than the previous one!

Now you know how to eat strawberries like a gourmet and which ones are perfect for bringing your perfect strawberry dreams to fruition. Which variety are you most excited to try? Check out the strawberries available on Ikigai Fruits before they go out of season!

Older post Newer post