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Amaou strawberries are large fruits, averaging 6-8 centimeters in diameter, and have broad, rounded shoulders that taper to a smaller, curved tip. The skin is glossy, smooth, and bright red, covered in many tiny, edible seeds, and the stems of the fruit are green with several pointed leaves. Underneath the surface, the flesh is aqueous, red, and soft, sometimes appearing somewhat hollow in the center of the fruit. Amaou strawberries are very sweet and also contain mild acidity to create a balanced, fruity flavor.
Amaou strawberries are available in the winter through spring in Japan.
Amaou strawberries, botanically classified as Fragaria ananassa, are a very sweet variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The large cultivar was created as an improved, modern variety, and after its release, it quickly became one of the most popular strawberries in Japan. The name Amaou is a version of an acronym derived from Japanese words that highlight the variety’s best attributes. The letter A stems from akai, which means “red,” MA stems from marui, which means “round,” O stems from ookii, which means “big or large,” and U stems from umai, which means “tasty,” and when placed together, Amaou stands for a large, red, round, and tasty fruit. Amaou strawberries are considered a specialty, fresh-eating variety that commands high prices in Japanese markets. The berries have also been known to reach very large sizes, breaking many world records, and are a highly favored variety for their sweet, juicy flavor.
Amaou strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can increase collagen production in the body and boost the immune system. The fruits also provide fiber, potassium, iron, zinc, and some vitamins A, E, and K.
Amaou strawberries are best suited for fresh eating as their sweet flavor and juicy consistency are showcased when consumed straight, out-of-hand. It is recommended to consume Amaou strawberries from the bottom up, as there is a higher sugar content at the top of the fruit. The fruits can be sliced and tossed into salads, mixed into fruit bowls, displayed on appetizer platters, or frequently used to decorate cakes. The strawberries can also be blended into smoothies, sliced as a topping for ice cream, used as a garnish for cocktails and lemonades, or used as a flavoring in baked goods, candies, and desserts. In Japan, many specialty sweets use Amaou strawberries, including a limited-edition Kit Kat bar. Amaou strawberries pair well with vanilla, caramel, chocolate, other fruits such as blueberries, mango, peaches, and raspberries, basil, and mint. The fresh fruits will keep 2-3 days when stored whole and unwashed in a ventilated container in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In Japan, Amaou strawberries are commonly purchased as gifts for celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. When the fruits are given as gifts, the strawberries are intricately wrapped in ornate boxes, and depending on the size, quality, and shape of the fruit, they can sometimes sell for hundreds of dollars. The demand for Amaou strawberries is only increasing, and some restaurants are even creating events solely around the fruits to attract customers. At the Daichi no Okurimono restaurant in Tokyo, a new all-you-can-eat Amaou dessert table was created in 2018 to showcase the specialty fruit when in season. The strawberries are served whole and fresh, or they can be found in cakes, gratins, fritters, and pasta, on pizza, or served with chocolate fondue.
Amaou strawberries were created and cultivated in the Fukuoka prefecture, located in southwestern Japan. It took over six years to fully develop the variety, first created through natural pollination, and the large fruits are well-suited to cultivation in Itojima, a city in Fukuoka, where the warm and cloudy climate creates the signature sweet flavor through a slow-growing process. Today Amaou strawberries are one of the most sought-after varieties in Japan and are also exported to luxury markets in Hong Kong, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Recipes that include Amaou Strawberries. One is easiest, three is harder.
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