Autumn & soon, Winter is fast approaching!
Here’re some mouth watering seasonal Japanese fruits, most commonly found during the colder seasons!
Japanese pears are known as sand pears and as you can imagine, their flesh has a rather rough and crispy texture. Interestingly, this type of pear can be eaten immediately after harvesting without waiting for it to ripen.
Look for them in season from September to October in fruit shops or greengrocers. When speaking of Japanese pears, many people probably think of ‘niju-seiki’ (meaning 20th century) pears that are exported overseas and have yellow-green skin. Their flesh is smooth and the refreshing taste with a slight hint of tartness and plenty of fruity juice makes them very popular in Japan.
Along with ‘niju-seiki’, ‘kosui’ and ‘hosui’ with their brownish-red skin are also very popular. They are even sweeter than ‘niju-seiki’ and have a wonderfully rich taste.
Persimmons, also known as ‘kaki’ around the world, are a seasonal autumn fruit in Japan.
There are both sweet and bitter persimmons.
The two typical varieties of sweet persimmons are ‘fuyugaki’, which has a melty soft flesh and is very sweet and juicy, and ‘jirogaki’, which has a firmer flesh with a crispy texture.
More than half the persimmons that come into season from October to December are ‘fuyugaki’ and they are often eaten as dessert.
With sweet persimmons, you peel the skin with a knife, remove the seeds and cut them into pieces to eat. But you cannot eat bitter persimmons as they are, so you have to peel and dry them either out in the sun or near a fire, to eliminate the bitterness.
Through this process, the sugar will also be condensed and the sweetness will be intensified. You can buy these dried persimmons at fruit shops, but various regions around Japan have their own ‘hoshigaki’ (dried persimmons) using varieties particular to the region.
Apples start to appear in fruit shops, greengrocers and supermarkets around November. Yellow or green apples are popular in Europe, but red apples are preferred in Japan.
‘Fuji’ apples, accounts for nearly half the total apple production in Japan, has a beautiful bright red skin. It is sweet and juicy, with firm, crisp-textured flesh that sometimes contains ‘mitsu’ (syrup).
Apples known as ‘sun-fuji’, which do not have such brightly colored skin, are also common. Their appearance is not quite as nice as ‘fuji’ apples, but they are grown in plenty of sunshine, so they are even sweeter and more flavorful.
The most popular yellow-green apple among the Japanese is ‘orin’. Its robust flavor combines a slight sourness with a strong sweetness.
Peel the apple, remove the core and cut it into 6-8 canoe-shaped pieces to eat, or simply wash it and bite into it without peeling to taste the genuine deliciousness of an apple.
You can easily peel a Japanese mandarin orange with your fingers and then eat it. Moreover, they rarely have seeds. You can eat them anywhere, so if you see them at greengrocers or supermarkets, you should definitely try one.
‘Unshu-mikan’, which come into season from fall to winter, are sold in plastic bags of 8-10. ‘Unshu-mikan’ is the most popular variety of mandarin orange in Japan and has soft, juicy flesh. Eating ‘unshu-mikan’ while sitting at a ‘kotatsu’ – a small table with a heater underneath and covered by a quilt; and watching TV is what typifies the Japanese New Year.
House-mikan (similar to “house pour beers”) produced under a controlled growing environment can be found on the market almost all year round.
There are also many other kinds of Japanese mandarins including ‘iyokan’, a hybrid of orange and mandarin. Also, ‘ponkan’, with its characteristic rough skin and strong flavor and ‘amanatsu; my favourite; comes in season from March to May.
Food lovers, check out more of Traditional Japanese food here:
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Stay tuned for Part 4!!~