Chile's Rare White Strawberries Cost Nearly $13 Per Pound

Scarlet berries heaped in a bowl with billowy cream. Crimson jam ready to be smeared over scones. A candy-pink daiquiri served in a frosted glass.

Despite purple and golden varieties hitting our shelves in recent years, most of us still think of strawberries as quintessentially red. Yet those lucky enough to taste Chile's elusive white variety say that it has its own special charms.

According to Atlas Obscura, the story goes that this pearly berry was so captivating to the Spanish conquistadors that the indigenous Mapuche people grew them as traps to ambush them. But beyond their porcelain flesh, what makes them so special?

There is the flavor, for one thing. Chilean white strawberries (frutilla blanca) are described as being very sweet, delicate, aromatic, and floral, without the acidity of their red counterparts. As explained by Departures, some liken them to "eating strawberry perfume," while others compare their taste to pineapple or white peach. Combine this with a softer texture, and they're wonderful in desserts.

The glossy, almost translucent strawberries actually range in color from ivory to pale pink. They are also the ancestors of your garden variety reds, yet as they're smaller in size, you can pop them into your mouth like mochi balls. In other words, they're a real gourmet treat — with an eyebrow-raising price tag to match.

The pale strawberry that's nearly impossible to find

Chilean white strawberries aren't the most expensive variety in the world — those would be Japan's "Beautiful Princess." At around $400 for just one, each berry is presented in a pretty box like a prize garnet (via Produce Report).

Yet at nearly $13 per pound, Chilean whites are still a lot more expensive than classic reds (via Atlas Obscura). Why? Because these pale fruits are rare in more ways than one.

They are grown in just two towns found in Chile's lush Nahuelbuta mountains: Contulmo and Purén. And as Atlas Obscura notes, this isn't a corporate enterprise — instead, family farms have been cultivating them for generations, sometimes in fields as small as an acre.

Frutilla blanca is also seasonal, harvested over a blink-and-you'll-miss-it five-week summer period (December and January). Locals then celebrate with a festival that includes folk music, jam-making, and a white wine strawberry punch known as "clery."

Sadly, this unique fruit is under threat from climate change and soil degradation caused by the lumber industry. Yet there is hope for Chilean white strawberries; it's likely that as their gourmet appeal grows, so will the desire to save them.

Still, don't expect them to show up in your local grocery store soon. If you're really dying to taste one, you'll just have to make your way to Contulmo or Purén at harvest time, when the party's in full swing and the strawberry punch is flowing.