In the Chilean city of Purén, a small group of farmers tends to a pale, aromatic crop on steep hillsides. They are growing frutillas blancas, or white strawberries.
Historically, these berries were prized for their impressive size, but now their colorless appearance and delicate flavor are their most distinguished traits. The pigment they lack is what gives red strawberries their signature tartness; so Chile’s berries are light on acid and surprisingly floral—almost like eating strawberry perfume.
Even though this white berry grows only in Purén, you can find its descendants in nearly every supermarket across the United States and most of Europe. In 18th-century France, a farmer bred the Virginian and Chilean varieties, and voila, the modern garden strawberry was born.
Need to Know
Get to Purén during the summer harvest (November to January) and find a local market, where the berries will be sold directly by the small collective of farmers.