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White strawberries are usually smaller than their red cousins, but can vary widely depending upon variety. The outer skin is dotted with red seeds and is mainly white with the occasional pink blushing. The interior is ivory white with a firm yet juicy texture. Some hybrid varieties have been developed to be especially sweet, but most White strawberries exhibit a similar flavor composition to that of the red varieties with unique notes of pineapple, green leaves, caramel and grapes.
White strawberries are available in the spring and summer.
While there are several varieties of White strawberry, they all come from two species, Fragaria vesca and F. chiloensis. Known as Alpine strawberries and Beach strawberries, respectively, both varieties will grow true from seed as they are not hybrids. Red strawberries contain a protein called redden, which transforms their color to red when they reach full ripeness. White strawberries are either deficient in or completely lack this protein. Red and White strawberries share the same molecule responsible for the aroma of ripe strawberries.
White strawberries contain many of the same nutrients as red strawberries. They do lack, however, a protein related to ripening that is thought to be the primary constituent responsible for strawberry allergies known as Fragaria allergen A1. It may be possible for an individual with a strawberry allergy to consume white strawberries without negative side effects or allergic reactions. This should only be attempted under medical supervision.
White strawberries are just as versatile as their red counterparts, exhibiting varied levels of both sugar and acidity. Their obvious advantage, or perhaps disadvantage depending upon the desired outcome, is that they lack any red pigmentation that may bleed into a dish. They may be used raw and make an interesting addition to salads and fruit salsas. They may be used in desserts, jams and jellies and stand up to cooking similarly to red strawberries, becoming soft and creating a thick stew-like sauce with rich layered flavors.
The parent species of White strawberries are native to both the Old World and the New World. Fragaria vesca is native to Europe and F. chiloensis is a wild species native to Chile. They continue to grow in both wild and domesticated form, though their commercial relevance is slight. White strawberries are easy to grow perennials that thrive in open gardens or containers. They enjoy well-drained, loamy soil and regular supplementation of both phosphorus and potassium fertilizer.