As the humidity and heat fade away, fall brings cooler weather and delicious fruit. There’s a variety of Japanese fall fruits to eat, and they come from all over the country. Many people incorporate them into amazing desserts and other dishes! Here are some fruits that you can enjoy for the season!
Japan cultivates many apple varieties, the most famous being Hokuto, Kinsei, and Fuji apples. Moreover, they all come from Aomori Prefecture. The Hokuto apple, a cross-breed of Fuji and Mutsu apples introduced in 1993, stands out for its large size and vibrant red color. In 2005, Aomori produced a Hokuto apple that earned a Guinness World Record as the world’s heaviest apple. It weighed 4lb, 1oz (or 1.849 kilograms.)
The Kinsei apple is a cross between Ralls Janet and Golden Delicious apple varieties. It was developed between the 1950s and 1970s. The apples can vary between small and medium and are typically pale gold in color. The apple is known for its sweet and occasionally tropical flavor.
The Fuji apple is the most well-known Japanese apple worldwide. Although they are called “Fuji,” they are not named after Mount Fuji. Their name comes from the town Fujisake in Aomori. The Fuji apple occupies about 50% of the Japanese apple market. They are famous for their red-yellow skin, crisp texture, and sweet flavors.
Aomori apples are used in various recipes, from sweet to savory. However, not all apples are suitable for cooking. The Fuji and Mutsu varieties are best for baked dishes such as apple pie. Hokuto apples, on the other hand, are usually enjoyed fresh. Some famous recipes include apple pie and apple jam. Some cafes in Japan also serve Hasselback cake (a somewhat flat cake stuffed with apple slices) or incorporate apples into their curries to add a sweet taste.
Some people call persimmons “the national fruit of Japan.” When you visit Japan in the fall, persimmon trees are hard to miss. These Japanese fruits add a nice warm orange to the scenery as the leaves change color. In addition to being eaten fresh, it is common to eat dried persimmons. Dried persimmons are called hoshigaki.
In Japan, there are two primary types of persimmons: astringent and non-astringent. You can tell these persimmon varieties apart by looking at their shape. Astringent persimmons, or shibugaki, have an oblong form with a pointed tip. People usually dry them to create hoshigaki due to their astringent taste. Hoshigaki symbolize good luck and long life and find common use as decorations for New Year’s Day.
The non-astringent, sweet varieties are amagaki. Amagaki are round and slightly flat in shape. People generally consume them raw since their insides tend to be quite soft. Wakayama Prefecture offers the best experience for persimmon enthusiasts–20% of Japan’s persimmons come from there!
There are a variety of popular recipes that utilize persimmon in sweet dishes. It’s usually available at traditional wagashi shops (traditional Japanese sweets). At these shops, you can buy hoshigaki or persimmon daifuku. Recently, many Japanese fusion cafes and restaurants have savory options such as persimmon potage soup or grilled persimmon as a side dish.
Grapes are rather expensive in Japan. This is typically due to the strict regulations and processes surrounding growing grapes. Due to the cost of premium grapes, they’re popular gifts for family and work colleagues. Kyoho and Ruby Roman grapes are a couple of popular grape varieties.
Kyoho grapes are from Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures. The name roughly translates to “great mountain peak.” According to some legends, the original cultivar of Kyoho grapes could see Mount Fuji outside his window. The grapes are large and black. They have a slightly acidic yet lovely taste. At some stores, they sell for a minimum of 100 USD.
Ruby Roman grapes only come from Ishikawa Prefecture. The grapes are large, red, and very sweet. Farmers developed the Ruby Roman grapes to compete with popular green and black grape varieties. Individually, each grape can cost 10-16 USD, whereas a premium bunch can cost up to 1000 USD.
Grapes are a common ingredient for many dishes in Japan. The most popular one is grape daifuku, usually sold at wagashi shops. Other popular dishes include grape jelly and grape sandwiches found in convenience stores.
Pears in Japan are called nashi, and they’re different from those we may see in our home countries. The main differences are that Asian pears are typically smaller, sweeter, and crispier. In Japan, the three most popular types of nashi are Kosui, Hosui, and Nijisseiki. Chiba Prefecture is the largest producer of pears in Japan.
The Kosui pears are famous for their high sugar content, making them incredibly juicy and sweet. They are also low in acidity. Meanwhile, the Hosui pears are slightly larger than Kosui pears but are similar in levels of sweetness and juiciness.
Some call the Nijisseiki variety “the 20th Century pears” because they are a recent pear variation. They’re medium-sized, with a sharp taste. By the same token, Tottori is home to the Nijisseiki Pear Museum, which houses a giant pear tree. This museum is an excellent spot if you are looking for delicious and fun pear products.
Generally, you can commonly find pear jam, jelly, and pear tarts in Japan. Additionally, some cafes will serve pear with their appetizers in the fall, typically in salads or cold meat such as prosciutto. This makes pears one of the most interesting Japanese fruits in cuisine!
Figs arrived in Japan via China in the 1600s, and some people called it “the foreigner’s persimmon.” The main varieties of figs in Japan are Horaishi, Masui Dauphine, and Toyomitsuhime. Wakayama is the largest producer of figs in Japan.
The Horai and Toyomitsuhime figs come from Fukuoka. The Horai figs are typically small and bite-sized, sometimes called ‘minifigs.’ On the other hand, Toyomitsuhime figs are as refreshingly sweet as a melon, almost like honey. Its name is a combination of the Japanese words for “the Toyo area,” “honey” (mitsu), and “princess” (hime). Since its debut, it has become a trendy fig in Japan, sometimes called the “sweet fig.”
Meanwhile, the Masui Dauphine fig is the most common in Japan. Its name comes from Mitsujiro Matsui, who first imported them in the 19th century. Because Masui figs become softer as they ripe, they usually go on sale ahead of time for easier transport. As a result, they become absolutely delicious when you buy them at the supermarket!
Popular recipes that use figs are fig jam, fig pound cake, and chocolate with dried figs. Additionally, many wagashi shops will incorporate figs into their sweets, especially in daifuku and yokan.
Overall, fall is a wonderful time in Japan, full of amazing things to enjoy. The leaves on the trees change to beautiful red and gold colors, and a lot of people like to go see them. In the fall, there are also yummy and healthy fruits to eat. Not only do they taste amazing, but they come with amazing health benefits. Do you have any favorite Japanese fruits? Tell us in the comments below, and let’s discuss the great things in the fall!
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