Perfect luxurious products thanks to Japanese farmers’ attention to even the smallest details and dedication to constant perfection of cultivating techniques.
Japanese Luxury Fruits
Japan, like other countries around the world, grows and sells many types of fruit. And it’s important to make the distinction between everyday supermarket fruit, and Japanese luxury fruit.
Here, we will focus on the latter, and within that genre, three specific types that are exported to the United States: strawberries, melons, and persimmons.
How Farmers Grow Premium Fruits
Like other premium Japanese ingredients such as wagyu and green tea, Japanese fruit farmers take great care in growing their crops. Their efforts begin with selecting perfect seeds.
Every year, the local farmers association breeds a new seed strain for a specific type of fruit, making slight improvements over the prior year, which they hope will yield an even more perfect crop. The farmers remove any seeds that appear weak, and later on once the seeds are planted and they grow into plants, any with imperfect flowers are discarded.
The reason why Japanese fruit is so incredibly delicious and packed with flavor comes down to how the farmers prune their plants. They choose specific pruning methods so that very few pieces of fruit grow on a vine, sometimes just one piece of fruit per vine, and this concentrates all the nutrients into that that fruit, so it ends up having far more flavor than a conventional version of the same fruit.
One of Japan’s most popular and celebrated fruits is the melon –prized both for their taste and appearance– and prices for these perfect spheres can fetch hundreds of dollars for just one. While Japan grows and sells many species of melon, the Japanese people typically refer to the fruit and all its varieties simply as “melon,” without differentiating types, but rather focusing on regions where the melon was grown. For example, the largest growing region for melons is Ibaraki Prefecture, where the harvest begins around April and lasts until June.
Japan’s rich soil, plentiful water, and abundant sunshine––alongside an overall favorable climate––help high-quality melons thrive. In addition, melon farmers’ subtle growing techniques developed over many years are essential to the fruit’s premiere flavor.
Japanese melon farmers exert strict control over how their plants are grown. It is thanks to their meticulous care that Japanese melons offer superior quality and flavor.
Farmers who grow high-end melons typically do so in greenhouses where they can carefully control the temperature in which the plants live, and also the amount of water they receive. And through pruning methods, each plant will only produce one melon. Farmers hand-harvest their melons, taking great effort to enhance the fruit’s taste and preserve its appearance. As the melons grow and become larger, some farmers wrap their melons in white paper, and even massage the fuit and polish it by hand before picking. Toward the end of the melon’s growing season, it’s often covered and protected from the sun.
Each farmer seeks to produce a perfectly round, blemish-free melon with a smooth exterior and a T-shaped stalk.
Japanese persimmons –of which there are various species– are primarily grown in Wakayama, Fukuoka, Nara, and Gifu Prefectures. These regions offer an overall favorable climate that helps perennial persimmon trees thrive. In addition, farmers’ subtle growing techniques developed over many years are essential to the fruit’s premiere flavor.
Japanese persimmon growers exert strict control over how their trees are grown. In the spring, farmers begin to prune their trees by removing the dry and dead branches, in addition to any new small branches, leaving only the older, strong branches on the tree. Next, they remove the tree’s old bark, encouraging new bark to grow which farmers believe makes the tree stronger.
In Japan, Dried Persimmon such as “Ichida-Gaki” is very popular. The fruits are peeled and then hung from strings by their stems. They are massaged daily after they have started to dry. “Anpo-gaki” is a variation of Japanese dried persimmon in which the persimmon is dried by fumigating it with sulphur, resulting in a soft, juicy texture. Japanese Dried Persimmon is very sweet because has a sugar concentration of more than 65 percent!
It is thanks to their meticulous care that Japanese persimmons offers consistent quality and flavor.
In the fall, once the fruit is ready to be harvested, Japanese farmers pick their persimmons by hand.
Japanese Strawberries, both pink and white, are grown all over the country, year-round. Japan’s rich soil, plentiful water, and abundant sunshine –alongside an overall favorable climate– help high-quality, nutritious strawberries thrive. In addition, strawberry farmers’ special growing techniques developed over many years are essential to the fruit’s premiere flavor.
High-class Japanese strawberries are prized for their rich aroma and intense, low-acid strawberry flavor. Japan’s most famous and prized strawberry variety is named Amaou, or the “King of Strawberries,” and hails from Fukuoka Prefecture.
Japanese strawberry producers exert strict control over how their fruits are grown. It is thanks to their meticulous care that Japanese strawberries offers consistent quality and superior flavor.
Most commonly, Japanese strawberry farmers grow their fruit in temperature-controly vinyl greenhouses, in raised beds, with plants spaced around 10cm apart. The spacing between plants is important for each plant to obtain optimum nutrients, moisture, light and space for growing. After the strawberries are hand-harvested, they are graded according to color, shape, and weight, and then careful packed.
Japanese strawberries are often eaten raw, or incorporated into desserts.
Using Japanese Fruits
While many choose to consume Japanese fruit in its fresh, ripe state, there are countless ways to cook with Japanese fruit. Most commonly, chefs serve high-end Japanese fruit as dessert at a restaurant, such as a sushi omakase, where often a single slice of melon will conclude a meal. However, some chefs like to use japanese fruit in composed presentations, such as layered the fruit in a parfait glass along with other components such as whipped cream.
Beyond desserts, Japanese fruit can be incorporated into delicious seasonal cocktails, used to sweeten savory sauces, or prepared alongside various proteins.
Video Series: Innovative and traditonal cooking of Japanese fruits
Award-winning chefs demonstrate new ways to prepare premium Japanese ingredients:
Chef Mike Bagale and Hisanori Yamamoto
Owner of Super Food Concept / Culinary Director of Icca
Chef Hirohisa Hayashi
Owner & Chef of Hirohisa and Sushi Ikumi
Chef Nobu Yamazaki and Masaya Kitayama
Owner & Chef / Executive Chef of Sushi Taro
Interested in fresh Japanese Fruits?
Interested in fresh Japanese Fruits?