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|Food Buzz: History of Strawberries|
Marihime strawberries are large, uniform, and plump fruits with round shoulders that taper to a smaller, curved tip. The skin is glossy, bright red, firm, and smooth, covered in tiny, edible seeds, and the hull or top of the fruit is dark green with flat, oval leaves. Underneath the surface, the flesh is pale red to pink, aqueous, and crisp. Marihime strawberries are crunchy, juicy, and have a high sugar content with low acidity, creating a sweet, fruity flavor.
Marihime strawberries are available year-round in Japan.
Marihime strawberries, botanically classified Fragaria ananassa, are a specialty variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The sweet fruits were developed in Japan as an early-ripening variety that comes into season before the winter holidays. Marihime strawberries are grown on a small scale and are favored for their productive nature, uniform shape, and sweet flavor.
Marihime strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can boost the immune system and provide some manganese, fiber, potassium, and folate. The fruits also contain iron, vitamins K and E, copper, and phosphorus.
Marihime strawberries are best suited for raw applications as their sweet flavor is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The fruits can be dipped in chocolate, sliced and tossed into fruit and green salads, chopped and used as a topping over parfaits, ice cream, and cereal, or blended into smoothies and milkshakes. The berries can also be cooked into jellies and jams or baked into tarts, pies, and cakes. In Japan, Marihime strawberries are popularly incorporated into a sweet fruit sandwich that consists of salty bread, whipped cream or mascarpone, and strawberries. Marihime strawberries pair well with grapes, chocolate, pistachios, almonds, maple syrup, vanilla, yogurt, condensed milk, and granola. The fresh fruits will keep 2-3 days when stored whole and unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In Japan, Marihime strawberries are highly promoted in commercial markets during the holiday season, especially for the Lunar New Year and Christmas festivities. The berries are often used as symbolic fruits for Lunar New Year, as red is considered a lucky color. The strawberries are displayed in decorative patterns on appetizer platters, and many restaurants also feature elaborate dessert buffets featuring strawberry cakes, milkshakes, cocktails, mochi, ice cream, pies, cookies, and scones. In addition to the Lunar New Year, Marihime strawberries are marketed during the Christmas season and are used in strawberry Christmas cakes. This traditional cake is known for its light and airy texture, incorporating fresh berries into the filling, and they are popularly given as gifts to friends and family at Christmas parties.
Marihime strawberries were created at the Wakayama Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station in Wakayama, Japan. The strawberry was developed from a cross between sachinoka and akihime varieties and was officially registered as a new cultivar in 2010. Today Marihime strawberries are still grown in the Wakayama prefecture and are sold in local markets and specialty grocers. The berries are also exported to neighboring countries, including Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Recipes that include Marihime Strwberries. One is easiest, three is harder.