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Peach Master
16 / 08 / 2017

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.

 

Storage Method:

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!!

Treasures on Ishigaki Island
08 / 06 / 2017

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!

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