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|Food Buzz: History of Strawberries|
Toukun strawberries are moderately sized fruits, averaging 2 to 5 centimeters in length, and are round to conical in shape with broad shoulders that taper to a curved tip. The skin is glossy and smooth, ranging in variegated hues of pale red, salmon-pink, to yellow-orange, and is covered in small external seeds, or achenes, that are set into the surface. Underneath the skin, the flesh is aqueous, soft, and white, sometimes encasing a narrow, hollow center. Toukun strawberries are aromatic and sweet with notes of coconut, peach, and caramel.
Toukun strawberries are available in the late winter through early spring in Japan.
Toukun strawberries are botanically a part of the genus Fragaria and are a hybrid variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. This late-season cultivar is also known as Tokun and Tou-Kun and is considered to be a very rare variety grown in Japan. Te Toukun roughly translates to “the scent of peaches” and is a reference to the fruit’s peach-like appearance and fragrance. Toukun strawberries are highly favored for their unique coloring, aroma, and flavor and are primarily consumed as a specialty fruit.
Toukun strawberries are an excellent source of potassium, which is a mineral that can help regulate fluid levels within the body and contain iron, folate, magnesium, and fiber, which can stimulate digestion. The fruits are also a good source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can boost the immune system and increase collagen production.
Toukun strawberries are best suited for fresh eating as their rarity and limited supply encourage consumers to taste the flesh straight, out-of-hand. The fruits can be consumed whole as a snack or fresh dessert, often dipped in condensed milk, or they can be sliced and paired with other subtle ingredients to allow the peach flavor to shine through. Toukun strawberries can also be used as edible decorations on cakes, tarts, and pastries, or tossed into green salads for a delicate flavor. Toukun strawberries pair well with vanilla, sweet cream, ice cream, and yogurt. The fresh fruits should be immediately consumed for the best flavor, but they will keep 3-7 days when wrapped in paper towels and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In 2010, six strawberry farmers in Japan gathered together to form a collective known as Sixberry Farmers, which was created to grow rare Toukun strawberries. The farms were based in Yaizu City, located within the Shizouka prefecture, and the farmers deded to grow the unique variety to distinguish themselves from other more mainstream commercial fruits. Despite the fruit’s rarity, the late-season nature of the Toukun strawberry created difficulty for the farmers to market the fruits, as the highest demand for strawberries is during the Christmas season. Since Toukun strawberries come into season in January, growers of Sixberry Farms such as Mr. Matsuda had to develop exclusive partnerships to create new demand for strawberries after the holiday . Toukun strawberries are primarily found in Yaizu City and are sold to a local bakery known as Kilfevon to produce seasonal tarts as part of their “Strawberry Week” marketing campaign. During the week, a signature dessert known as Momoka’s tart is filled with sponge cake, a crisp crust, cream, custard, and Toukun strawberries, and is sold in very limited supply. It has been reported that strawberry enthusiasts will travel across the entire country just to take home one of the peach flavored tarts.
Toukun strawberries are a hybrid variety that was created from a joint parentship between the National Institute of Agriculture and Food Research and the Hokkaido National Agricultural Research Center. The variety was registered as a new breed in 2011, and only select growers are approved for cultivation. Today Toukun strawberries are considered to be very rare and can be found through high-end department stores and specialty grocers in Japan.
Recipes that include Toukun Strawberries. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Shizuoka Gourmet||Toukun Strawberry Cocktail (Cai Pirigna style)|