Japanese Fruit (I): Amaou Strawberry
The Amaou strawberry is a beloved fruit in Japan, known as the king of strawberries. It’s famous for its large size, sweet flavor, and bright red color. This premium strawberry variety is highly sought after and commands a high price due to its exceptional quality and taste.
What is an Amaou Strawberry?
Amaou strawberries are grown mainly in Fukuoka Prefecture, located on the southern island of Kyushu. The name "Amaou" is derived from the first letters of three Japanese words: ama (sweet), midori (green), and ougon (golden), which describe the fruit's sweet taste, green color, and golden fruit stems.
One of the unique characteristics of Amaou strawberries is their large size, averaging around 4-5 cm in diameter and weighing up to 50 grams each. This makes them significantly larger than other strawberry varieties commonly found in markets.
Another striking feature of Amaou strawberries is their deep red color, which is not only visually appealing but also an indicator of their sweetness. The berries are typically harvested when fully ripe, ensuring maximum flavor and sweetness. In terms of taste, Amaou strawberries are often described as being exceptionally sweet with a slight tartness, making them a perfect balance of flavors. Their juicy flesh and soft texture also add to their appeal.
Due to their premium quality and limited availability, Amaou strawberries carry a high price in Japan, often selling for more than twice the price of other strawberry varieties. They are typically sold in specialty stores and high-end fruit shops, or given as gifts on special occasions.
History of Amaou Strawberries
The history of Amaou strawberries dates back to the 1990s when a group of strawberry farmers in Fukuoka Prefecture sought to create a new variety of strawberries that could rival those from other regions in Japan. Through years of selective breeding and experimentation, the farmers successfully developed a new strawberry variety that was larger, sweeter, and more attractive than any other strawberry they had grown before.
In 2002, Amaou strawberries were first introduced to the market, and their exceptional quality and flavor quickly caught the attention of consumers. With their unique combination of sweetness and tartness, as well as their large size and deep red color, Amaou strawberries became a popular delicacy in Japan and soon gained international recognition.
Today, Amaou strawberries are mainly grown in Fukuoka Prefecture, with over 400 farmers cultivating the berries on approximately 1,000 hectares of land. The process of growing Amaou strawberries is highly regulated, with strict quality control measures in place to ensure that the berries meet the highest standards of taste and appearance.
Good Ways to Utilize Amaou Strawberries
In addition to being enjoyed fresh, Amaou strawberries are also used in various desserts such as cakes, tarts, and ice cream. Their unique flavor profile and attractive appearance make them a popular ingredient in many Japanese sweets. Here are some common applications of Amaou strawberries:
Consumed as is: Amaou strawberries are often enjoyed on their own due to their sweet and slightly tart taste. They are a popular snack in Japan and can be found in specialty fruit markets and grocery stores.
Desserts: Amaou strawberries are a popular ingredient in many desserts such as cakes, tarts, and ice cream. Their unique flavor profile and attractive appearance make them a perfect dessert.
Beverages: Amaou strawberries are also used in various beverages such as smoothies and cocktails. The berries add a fruity sweetness and bright color to these drinks.
Jams and Preserves: Amaou strawberries are perfect for making jams and preserves because of their high sugar content and strong flavor. These products are often sold in gourmet food stores and gift shops.
Chocolate-covered Strawberries: Amaou strawberries dipped in chocolate are a popular treat in Japan. They are often given as gifts during special occasions such as Valentine's Day or Christmas.