Japan is famous for many things, and its fruits are no exception! The country is famous for producing some of the world’s most exquisite and expensive fruits! Let’s look at some of the best Japanese fruits you can enjoy on your next luxury picnic!
The name “Hatsukoi no Kaori” translates to “First Love’s Fragrance,” just like a first love, these strawberries offer an unforgettable experience. What makes them so special is the care they receive while they are grown. Each berry is pampered and protected from harsh weather, producing a lovely and succulent fruit.
These extraordinary strawberries symbolize love and luxury in Japan, but their rarity goes beyond the dedication of farmers. Only a small fraction of the strawberries from the same patch, approximately 10%, possess the desired pure white shade.
This white strawberry is attractive, both inside and out. It has a gentle milky pink outside and a pure white inside decorated with a beautiful pattern of red seeds. The color is achieved through a method that controls exposure to light, which prevents the development of the typical red color of regular strawberries, resulting in a luxury picnic masterpiece!
Regarding citrus production in Japan, Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island proudly wears the crown as the “Citrus Kingdom.” The unshu mikan, or mikan in Japan, is its chief representative. It’s the first fruit that comes to mind for many Japanese when they hear ‘mikan.’
What makes the unshu mikan special is its small size, which makes it easy to peel. It has very few seeds, ensuring an enjoyable snacking experience. This beloved fruit is also well-known for its availability, as it remains in season for a long time, from autumn to early spring.
Depending on the time of harvest, the unshu mikan offers different flavors. The early “wase” variety has a refreshing sweetness in autumn, while the later “okute” variety, towards the end of the growing season, has a richer, sweeter taste.
The legacy of mikan cultivation runs deep in the beautiful Maana District along Ehime’s western coastline. Of the 500 households in Maana, 170 grow mikan. The “Maana mikan” brand name has earned Japan’s Emperor’s Cup, the highest farming honor!
Ume, the Japanese plum, is a luxury fruit that plays a vital role in Japanese culinary traditions and culture. While raw ume is too tart to enjoy on its own, it holds a special place in Japanese cuisine as the primary ingredient for umeboshi, a sour and salty pickled plum. Many people enjoy this while on a luxury picnic with friends.
Ume farming is an ancient tradition in Japan, with some ume trees being hundreds of years old. The fruit is picked in early summer and then pickled to create umeboshi. The pickling ume involves drying, salting, and soaking, creating a sour and salty flavor with a hint of sweetness. A jar of high-quality umeboshi is a prized possession in many Japanese families.
But the story of ume doesn’t end there. This remarkable fruit also plays a role in producing umeshu, a beloved Japanese liqueur. Ume, sugar, and shochu combine to make this sweet and sour drink.
Making umeshu involves soaking ume fruits and sugar in shochu and then allowing the mixture to age for several months to years. The result is a delicious, fruit-infused liqueur! People enjoy this drink’s distinctive taste and various uses as the sourness of the ume is softened by the sweetness of the sugar!
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Yuzu, a celebrated citrus, thrives in Japanese cuisine. It’s a star in fine dining, soups, sashimi, and pastries. But its role isn’t limited to kitchens. Yuzu has a special place in Japanese traditions. During events like the winter solstice, a yuzu bath is believed to bring good fortune.
Shikoku, a major yuzu producer, treasures this citrus. It’s more than a fruit; it’s a symbol of pride. The island has deep ties with yuzu. One of its prefectures hosts an annual fall festival celebrating this fruit.
Yuzu is similar in size and appearance to a tangerine, with bumpy skin that transforms from green to a warm yellow when it reaches ripeness. Beneath this thick skin lies the golden treasure of yuzu’s flesh, filled with numerous seeds.
Yuzu is extremely sour, akin to a blend of lemon, grapefruit, and sweet orange. It boasts a more potent aroma than many other citrus fruits. Combining these characteristics and the challenging harvesting process makes yuzu one of the most expensive fruits!
The kaki, or Japanese persimmon, stands as a symbol of autumn’s beauty and gifts. With its vibrant orange fruits, kaki is loved for its sweet, honey-like flavor and luscious, custard-like texture. As the autumn leaves change colors, kaki grows on their trees, with the peak season typically spanning from October to December.
The growth of kaki demands attention to detail. Kaki trees are carefully pruned and maintained to ensure high-quality fruits. Fuyu kaki are known for delightful sweetness, providing a crisp and refreshing bite.
On the other hand, the Jiro variety, harvested later in the season, offers a richer flavor and a texture that seems to melt in your mouth. Kaki’s connection to the changing seasons and the celebration of autumn is deep in Japanese culture. People also enjoy these fruits fresh or dried and even used in traditional Japanese New Year decorations!
Whether you’re indulging in a perfectly wrapped Hatsukoi no Kaori strawberry, savoring the sour punch of umeboshi, or adding the zesty aroma of yuzu to your dishes, Japanese fruits offer a glimpse into the rich culture and exquisite tastes of Japan.
So, the next time you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to savor the flavors of these Japanese fruits at a luxury picnic – a true embodiment of nature’s finest creations and the dedication of the Japanese people to preserving their rich traditions.
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