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Yumenoka strawberries are large fruits with a uniform, conical shape that tapers to a slender, pointed tip. The skin is smooth, glossy, bright red, and firm, covered in many small, external seeds that are also known as achenes. Underneath the surface, the flesh is dense, aqueous, slightly chewy, pale red to orange, and emits a sweet, fruity aroma. Yumenoka strawberries have a balanced, sweet and tart flavor with moderate levels of acidity.
Yumenoka strawberries are available in the winter through early summer, with a small peak season in the mid-winter through mid-spring in Japan.
Yumenoka strawberries, botanically a part of the genus Fragaria, are a Japanese variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The large cultivar was first developed in the Aichi prefecture and is one of four main varieties commercially cultivated within the region. Strawberry cultivation began in Aichi in the 19th century, but many of the varieties in commercial markets struggled due to their short shelf life and delicate nature. Yumenoka strawberries were created in the 21st century to meet the need for a variety with durable, firm flesh, a uniform size, and extended storage capabilities. The name Yumenoka roughly translates from Japanese to mean “dreamy aroma” or “dreams come true” and is a variety highly favored for its appearance and sweet, juicy flavor.
Yumenoka strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can increase collagen production and protect the body against environmental aggressors by boosting the immune system. The fruits also contain vitamins E and K, manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium.
Yumenoka strawberries are best suited for raw applications as their firm, and juicy consistency is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. It is recommended to bite directly into the flesh rather than slicing or cutting to experience the optimal texture and flavor. Yumenoka strawberries can be dipped whole into chocolate or candy coatings, served on appetizer plates with cheeses and nuts, or used as topping on cakes and tarts. The berries can also be mixed into salads, used as a topping on pizza and sushi, blended into crepe batter, wrapped into mochi, baked into doughnuts and cream puffs, and kneaded into a dough for strawberry dangos or sweet dumplings. Yumenoka strawberries pair well with fruits such as blueberries, kiwis, mangoes, and peaches, green tea, vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, leafy greens, broccoli, and red cabbage. The fresh fruits will keep 3-7 days when stored lightly covered and kept dry in the refrigerator.
In Nagasaki, Japan, the character known as Yume-Zukin Chan was created by the Japanese Agricultural Cooperative Federation to promote the sales of Yumenoka strawberries. Yume-Zukin Chan is a cartoon strawberry mixed with a deer, which is a symbol of the Nagasaki region and is often displayed on the packaging of the Yumenoka strawberry. The character was first released on strawberry day in January and has become a symbol of good luck and fortune. Within Japanese culture, superstition is widely present, and many believe giving fresh Yumenoka strawberries with the character on the packaging will bring good luck to the receiver. Consumer goods made with Yumenoka strawberries are also believed to be lucky. During difficult school exams, cakes with Yumenoka strawberries are known as “a dream come true cakes,” and for Valentine’s Day, chocolates made with the strawberries are known as “dreamy aroma chocolate.”
Yumenoka strawberries were created by the Aichi Prefectural Agricultural Research Institute in 2004 in the Aichi prefecture, Japan. The variety is believed to be a cross between kei 531 and kurume 55 strawberries and was officially registered in 2007. Today Yumenoka strawberries are primarily grown in the Aichi prefecture, but they have also expanded to Chiba, Nagasaki, and Nara prefectures and are grown under licensed farms. When in season, the firm, sweet fruits can be found at local markets and specialty grocers across Japan.
Recipes that include Yumenoka Strawberries. One is easiest, three is harder.
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