Two major criteria come to mind when shopping for fruit: is it fresh and is it sweet?
Freshness is very hard to quantify and we doubt any fruit sellers will give you an honest answer on how many days the fruits have been on the shelves, but serious fruit lovers can use various methods like examining the appearance and firmness to tell apart fresh fruits and bad fruits. On the other hand, sweetness is much more quantifiable as we use the brix level to measure how sweet the fruit is. Brix level is simply the amount of sugar content in a fruit, so the higher the brix level the sweeter the fruit. Some farmers will set a minimum brix level standard, such as Japanese Shine Muscat at a typical brix level of 17/18. How do the farmers test the brix level?
Well, farmers will use a portable brix level checker that is rather easy to use. Cut the fruit and drip some juice on to the sensor and it will return the brix level. Farmers cannot check every fruit in their farm, so they will do random checks by area. Hence, there is a chance the fruits we get do not meet the minimum brix level standard, but generally the discrepancy is small.
Let’s do a test our fruits to see which is the sweetest. You just might be surprised.
We hope that you now have a better idea of fruit’s brix levels. Sweet fruits largely taste better but let’s not forget flavor, aroma, and juiciness are all important aspects of a good tasty fruit.
Guess what’s in season? Japanese Peaches!!!
We have been working hard to bring you the freshest and tastiest peaches from Japan, but many of our customers are unfamiliar with how to select and store peaches so we have decided to share a little bit more info on this topic to help you become peach masters!
What are differences among various peach varieties and origins?
We have recently been selling more varieties of peaches from different parts of Japan. Now, it would be silly to think they all taste the same, but we shouldn’t expect them to taste very different because after all they are the same fruit.
From our experiences, Yamanashi supplies peaches with higher brix level (brix is the term we use to describe sugar content) than peaches from other parts of Japan. However, sweeter peaches do come at a cost (no, we are not talking about money here), Yamanashi peaches tend to spoil faster than other Japanese peaches so it is important to consider how quickly you could finish a carton of 18-20 peaches. Another problem we found with Yamanashi peaches is their noticeably unpleasant appearance (very dark red color and often have small dots on its skin), which may not be ideal for gifting.
Wakayama peaches though not as sweet as Yamanashi peaches, have quite the aroma. They smell delicious and the peaches are large. Each 4kg carton of Wakayama peaches may contain 11/12/13/15 peaches, hence the lower the number of peaches in one box the bigger the peaches. This combination of large size and aroma makes Wakayama peaches the perfect peach for gifting.
We have sold several different Wakayama Peaches including Nagata Hakuho, Arakawa Hakuho, Arakawa Shimizu-Hakuto, and Reiho. Arakawa is a premium brand for Wakayama peaches, like Crown Musk Melon or Amaou strawberries, the Arakawa brand is famous for producing high quality peaches. Shimizu Hakuho and Hakuho have two major differences. 1) the timing, Hakuho is an earlier varieity. 2) The color, Shimizu has a lighter color. We have found that later varieties (Reiho and Shimizu) to be sweeter than earlier varieties.
Kimiko, also known as golden peach, has its own unique taste. Its brix level is similar to Wakayama Hakuho peaches, but Kimiko has a unique flavor that rushes out as you bite into its juicy flesh. Some describe this one of a kind taste like a combined taste of apricot and mango, but you must try to taste for yourself!
How to select?
First let us explain the grading you see on the boxes. In general, our friends in Japan like to grade the peaches with three to four levels of goodness. At the top is Tokushu, then there is Red Shu, Blue Shu, and occasionally you may find Yuu but not likely. The brix level, appearance, size, and aroma are all important standards that the peaches are graded on. Most people prefer the Tokushu grade because they are categorized as the top quality, but Tokushu peaches are often too ripe for exporting. We truly recommend Red Shu for its high brix level and durability, and we would only recommend Tokushu if you are visiting Japan and will promptly eat the peaches. Now this does not mean Blue Shu peaches are bad, but they may not be as ripe during testing so they are not as sweet. This means once we give it time to ripen then the Blue Shu peaches could also very sweet and juicy, and it is probably the best value!
Size can also make a big difference. The bigger the peaches the more likely they will spoil quickly. A box of 4kg Wakayama peaches may contain 11/12/13/15/18, and we’d say 13/15 are the best while the bigger sizes are more favorable for gifting.
Sometimes the peaches will have a small area at the top of the peach that is especially dark, and this is an indication that the peach is ripe and ready to eat. However, if the inside of the peach is also dark then the peach is likely spoiled and please avoid eating.
Plumpness, shininess, color, size, and skin are important features to consider when choosing peaches. A good peach should be free of bruises, wrinkles, damages, or cracks, depending on the variety, the color should be white, yellow or pink.
If you received the peaches and they are not fully ripen (still very firm) then we recommend resting the peaches in room temperature for a few hours to speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, keep the peaches in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Only refrigerate the peach when they are ripe since if you do so before they have ripened, can lead to loss of flavor, change in texture and appearance.
Most of the peaches we deliver are ready to eat, so please please please refrigerate them immediately!!