Let's play a quick game of answer as fast as you can. What do you sleep in? A bed! If you're not alive, you're what? Dead! What color is a strawberry? Red!
That last question was actually a trick question. If you answered red, you're like most people. But aren't all strawberries red? Nope! Some strawberries are white.
And, no, we're not talking about 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 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.
If you like to garden, growing white strawberries in containers may 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 especially sweet flavors.
As an added bonus, you might not have to worry about birds pillaging 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!