Almost 2000 kilometers away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Japan’s capital, near the Southernmost part of Japan lies a natural wonderland – Ishigaki island. Ishigaki island lies on the tip of a string of volcanic islands, covered with palm tree forests, tropical foliage and surrounded by clear waters, unspoiled beaches and coral reefs.
Ishigaki island is the major area of Okinawa pineapple plantation. The soil in Ishigaki is rich in gravel and relatively acidic at around pH 4-5 level, which is not suitable for growing vegetation but miraculously pineapples love this dry and acidic soil! The great weather in Ishigaki also allow the pineapples to gain full advantage of the sunshine – making them sweet and tasty!
Pineapples are native to South America and they were first introduced in Japan in 1927, and were planted and cultivated by Taiwanese settlers. More than 100,000 tons of pineapple were harvested during the peak of its production in 1969. However, production fell to 6,000 tons in 2012 due to the oil crisis and the liberalization of frozen pineapple imports in the 1970s.
Many people assume pineapples are grown on trees, but the lovely fruits are rather grown on the ground from a leafy plant. Farmers first plant the pineapple stalks on the ground, and continue to water the plant consistently each week. It could take several months to a year before a red cone appears from the center of the plant which is the pineapple flower. The flower is red and pink in color at first, then later it grows into a blue and purplish color. The flower takes roughly three to six months to dry, and once it is dry the pineapple fruit will grow from the center of the plant. The time it takes to grown a pineapple will depend on its variety, and it could take up to two years. Farmers will farm the pineapples once they think it’s near fully ripened.
Although many pineapple varieties are grown in Okinawa such as Queen, Smooth Cayenne, Abacaxi, none are more popular and unique than Peach Pineapple and Snack Pineapple. Both pineapple varieties are delicious and juicy while each has a different combination of sweetness and tart. The snack pineapple is unique not only by taste, but also by the way you eat the pineapple. Simply cut the top or the bottom of the snack pineapple and begin tearing the pineapple by hand. Snack pineapples are also well known for its edible soft core and its relatively higher level of sweetness and lower acidity.
The Peach Pineapples are smaller in size compared to other varieties and weigh between 14 to 28 ounces. The color of the skin will turn from green to a red and orange blend when ripe. The flesh of the Peach Pineapple is bright with a pearlescent white and it tastes creamy and tender. Like the Snack Pineapple, the Peach Pineapple also have a soft and edible core and they are usually sweeter in taste with a hint of peach flavor.
Okinawa Pineapples are available from May to August. The refreshing fruit juice and tender flesh of the pineapple is super addictive making it the perfect treat in the hot summer!
Fruits make up an important part of our diet, they are packed with healthy nutrients that help support and maintain our body to function. It is also important to know when is the best time to have fruits to maximize its energy potential.
After your night’s recovery, your body serves on an empty stomach and it’s the best time to eat fruits. When your stomach is empty, there will be different types of enzyme to digest the fruits and your body will be able to fully absorb the nutrients, fiber and awaken your digestive system. Apples, pears and grapes are great for breakfast, they provide a good load of glucose hence provide energy to start your day.
Eating fruits before meals allow your body to digest the fruit without interruption of other food. Having raw fruits before cooked meals can also boost your immune system and prevent disease. Kiwi, cherries and guavas are high in fiber, which means you will feel fuller for a longer period and are suitable to eat before meal.
It is suggested that you eat fruits at least 1 hour after your meal to allow your body to digest the protein and carbohydrates from your meal. Pineapples, papayas and oranges promotes a healthy digestive tract, especially pineapples. Pineapples can help break down fats and oils in your body, and can aid digestion.
Although fruits are a healthier alternative as a nighttime snack compared to other high caloric food, but it is not suggested to consume fruits right before you sleep, you should eat them in moderation. Fruits contain a fair amount of sugar and could produce excess fat if energy is not burnt. Avoid fruits with high fiber as well, it will trigger the digestive system and could disrupt your sleep. However, longan on the other hand can enhance a rejuvenating sleep and help recover your body.
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