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Sanuki Hime Strawberries
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Sanuki Hime strawberries are large fruits, averaging 3 to 4 centimeters in diameter and 4 to 5 centimeters in length, and have a round to conical, tapered shape. The skin is smooth, glossy, and bright red, covered in many small and edible, red seeds. Underneath the surface, the flesh is soft, aqueous, pale red to white, and emits a sweet, sugary fragrance. Sanuki Hime strawberries have a very sweet flavor balanced with a hint of acidity.
Sanuki Hime strawberries are available in the winter through spring in Japan.
Sanuki Hime strawberries, botanically a part of the genus Fragaria, are a Japanese hybrid that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The sweet fruits are a cross between miki ichigo and sagahonoka strawberry varieties. Sanuki Hime strawberries were developed for their large size, sweet flavor, and adaptability to new cultivation methods. The name Sanuki refers to the ancient name for Kagawa, the fruit’s native prefecture, and Hime translates to "princess" in Japanese, which is in reference to the fruit’s beautiful appearance. Sanuki Hime strawberries are primarily consumed fresh and are a favored variety for their sweet flavor and juicy consistency.
Sanuki Hime strawberries are an excellent source of manganese, which helps reduce inflammation and vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can boost the immune system. The fruits also contain folate, potassium, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Sanuki Hime strawberries are best suited for raw applications as their sweet flavor and bright red coloring are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The fruits can be sliced and tossed into a green salad and fruit bowls, halved and used as an edible garnish on cakes, tarts, and pies, or blended into ice cream, gelato, and compotes. They can also be used as a topping on parfaits, cereals, and pancakes, blended into smoothies, muddled into lemonade and cocktails, or cooked into jams. In Japan, Sanuki Hime strawberries are popularly layered in sandwiches with cream, used as a flavoring in mochi, or are decorated on shortcakes. Sanuki Hime strawberries pair well with fruits such as blueberries, mangoes, kiwis, bananas, coconut, and oranges, vanilla, Nutella, and red bean. The fresh fruits will keep 3-7 days when stored lightly covered and dry in the refrigerator.
In Japan, Sanuki Hime strawberries are grown hydroponically in greenhouses to create an elevated, hygienic garden. The gardens are known among Japanese farms as rakuchin saibai, which roughly translates to “easy cultivation,” and were designed for growers to increase production and streamline the commercial harvest process. With strawberries being one of the most popular fruits in Japan, many strawberry growers also allow consumers to tour the farms and pick their own berries. This allows the grower to personally interact with their target market and encourage repeat customers. Along with fresh strawberries, there are also bakeries beside the farms which use the fruits in sweet treats such as crepes, ice cream, cakes, sauces, and scones to entice the farm visitors.
Sanuki Hime strawberries are grown in the Kagawa Prefecture in southern Japan, which is known for its strawberry production. The sweet berries are an original Kagawa breed, developed in the early 2000s by the Kagawa Agricultural Experiment Station, and were registered under the Sanuki Hime name in 2009. Today Sanuki Hime strawberries can be found through specialty grocers and local markets throughout Japan.