Korean strawberries are an icon of South Korean culture, being popular both internationally and locally for their sweet flavour, fragrant aroma and juicy fruit. Strawberries are known in Korea as the “King of Winter Fruits”, with the fruit being harvested in abundance in the winter season. In Korea, luxury hotels host strawberry buffets that highlight all sorts of different strawberry cocktails and desserts, using both sweet and tangy strawberries to celebrate the winter fruit.
Despite Korean strawberries being popular as a whole, there are many different strawberry types that are available in the market that each have their unique characteristics and appeals. As such, it’s important to be informed on the best strawberry varieties to be able to get the best tasting strawberries to suit your taste. Here are some of the top strawberry varieties in Korea, as well as some key information regarding these varieties.
Seolhyang Strawberries (설향 딸기)
Seolhyang strawberries are the most widely popular strawberry variety in South Korea, making up 90% of the strawberries sold. Seolhyang means ‘the scent of snowfall, a reference to how these strawberries grow at around the same time as Korea’s winter snowfall.
Seolhyang strawberries are a native Korean variety introduced in 2005, and is a hybrid breed between the Japanese strawberry varieties, Janghee and Red Pearl. They contain a mixture of good traits from both varieties, including juicy flesh, a refreshing taste, and pest-resistance.
Seolhyang strawberries have a long triangular shape, and are popular for having a combined sweet and tart flavour. They also have soft, tender flesh, giving them a delicate texture.
Maehyang Strawberries (매향 딸기)
Maehyang strawberries are the first native Korean variety of strawberries, which accounts for 90% of Korea’s strawberry exports and brings in US$20 million in yearly revenue. This variety is especially popular in areas like Hong Kong and Singapore, where it is considered a premium strawberry variety.
Both Maehyang and Seolhyang strawberries are considered the most popular strawberry varieties in South Korea, earning the Prime Minister’s Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Korea, and both of which take the top positions in breeding yield in the country.
Maehyang strawberries have a higher sugar content than Seolhyang strawberries, and have better storage capabilities, making them a popular variety for exports. They have firm flesh, giving them a nice bite in contrast with the Seolhyang strawberries.
King’s Berry (대왕 딸기)
The King’s Berry strawberry originates from and is exclusively cultivated in Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do. These strawberries have an exceptional size - while Seolhyang strawberries above 20 grams per fruit are considered large, King’s Berry strawberries usually weigh 30 to 50 grams each, and can go up to 100 grams per fruit. This makes them 2 to 3 times larger than most regular strawberries, its size achieved naturally without the aid of growth accelerators.
King’s Berry strawberries also have a higher sugar content than regular strawberries, and its unique peachy sweetness and juiciness makes it one of the best strawberry varieties in Korea.
Santa Strawberry (싼타 딸기)
Santa strawberries are grown in Gyeongsangbuk-do, and is the first Korea strawberry variety to sign exclusive rights agreements with China and Southeast Asia due to their popularity in the regions. The unique name, Santa Strawberry, is derived from how the fruit is the tastiest and most fragrant around the Christmas period.
The Santa strawberry has a sweet aroma comparable with plums, and is easily recognizable by its large size and firm flesh.
Sancheong Strawberry (산청딸기)
The Sancheong strawberry is grown in Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, the largest strawberry-producing area in South Korea, and is widely popular in Korea due to its exceptionally sweet flavour. This can be attributed to its ideal cultivation environment, with an abundance of clean water resources, fertile yellow soil from its close proximity to Jirisan Mountain.
Sancheong strawberries are also considerably resistant to rotting and crop diseases during cultivation, as they are grown on a ‘High Bed’, which is an artificial bed installed above ground level.
Those were some of the most popular Korean strawberry varieties that you have to try, from all different parts of Korea. Each strawberry type has its own unique characteristics and charms, so it’d be great to try them all to enjoy the best of the best.
BlueBasket will be bringing in some of these premium Korean strawberries, so be sure to keep an eye out for them!