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Purén White: Origins of the rarest strawberry delicacy

    white chilian stawberries

    There is a unique type of strawberry that can only be found in two Chilean towns. Known as the rare “frutilla blanca,” this fruit is about the size and color of a ping-pong ball and grows exclusively in around 24 gardens situated on the steep, forested slopes of the Nahuelbuta Range. What sets it apart from regular strawberries is its sweet taste and distinct aroma reminiscent of pineapples. Interestingly, this fruit is also considered an ancestor of the common garden strawberry.

    The white strawberry is exclusively found in the Chilean towns of Contulmo and Purén. It’s considered a rare delicacy there and is sold for 22,000 Chilean pesos per kilo ($25). White strawberries are only available for purchase during their brief harvest season, which lasts for five weeks between December and January.

    Did you know that the garden strawberries we enjoy today were created through crossbreeding between the Virginia strawberry of eastern North America and a variety of white strawberries brought back to Europe by a French spy named Amedée François Frézier in 1714? This fascinating agricultural development took place in Brittany around three decades after Frézier’s discovery.

    strawberries woodcut illustration

    Have you observed the name of the French spy, Frézier? It may ring a bell because the French language word for strawberry is “fraise“. Frézier’s ancestor was knighted and granted the name by the French king in 916 after presenting him with ripe strawberries as a gift. It appears that Amédée was meant to have a connection with this esteemed fruit.

    Fun Fact: The seeds on the outside of strawberries are actually fruits. Botanically, the red part of a strawberry is an accessory.