Japanese Fruits in Summer :
What to Buy?
Have you visited or planned to visit Japan during the summer? If so, in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, you will experience the super-hot and humid Japanese summer which can be severe right through to September. Good news though, one way to keep cool is to sample sweet, juicy and fresh fruits such as peaches, pears, and grapes which are in season during summer! As you stroll around the shops you’ll see many varieties of fruits available which are not only delicious, but also help to prevent heatstroke by increasing your water and salt intake!
■The Japanese Tradition of
The Land of the Rising Sun is renowned for many wonderful things, and its love and appreciation for perfectly ripe and delicious fruit is one of them.
In Japan you will often find different classes of the same fruit. You can buy grapes for 300 yen or 3,000 yen. So, what distinguishes the 300 yen grapes from the 3,000 yen ones? Generally speaking the fruits are classified based on three different characteristics: brand, presentation and of course taste.
Along with the usual price tag, you can often find a number with the Japanese character “度” (dou) which means “degrees”. This value indicates how sweet a product will be by showing the percentage of sugar in its total mass. So, the higher the degrees, the sweeter it will be!
The most popular fruits at this time of year are the ones that are in season, some of which are pears (なし, nashi), peaches (もも, momo) and kyoho grapes (巨峰, Kyoho). Of course, the easiest way to find the best fruit is to try it yourself at least once!
■Buying and Trying Fruit
The best choice of fruits is often found at larger supermarkets so I headed down to the huge AEON store next to Shin-Urayasu station to find some of the tastiest.
I got myself two pears, one peach and a bunch of kyoho grapes to taste-test at home!
This peach is one of AEON’s own brands, TOPVALU, so as the name suggests, it offers better value for money than some of the competitors. It was rated as 14.3度 on their brix sweetness scale and cost 645 yen including tax. It is soft, fluffy, juicy and sweet.
Most fruits in Japan are peeled before they are eaten (including peaches) but I personally prefer the contrast that the skin creates. This peach was perfectly ripe and it just melted in my mouth – chewing was only required for the slightly furry skin. I have to say, this was definitely the best peach I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Compared to the western pears that I’m more familiar with, the Japanese pear is definitely very different. First and foremost, it’s not pear shaped but a perfect sphere, and the texture is quite different as well!
Western pears are slightly mushy and somewhat “gritty”, but when I cut the pear into slices it already felt much firmer. After trying the first pear, I was surprised by how crunchy and refreshing it was. It felt more like a watermelon than a pear. I decided to wait two days before trying the second pear, convinced that it may be slightly under ripe. The second pear was slightly sweeter as it had ripened more, but it still retained the juicy, crunchy texture which tasted even better cold! A pack of two pears cost 1,058 yen including tax.
These seedless grapes were the priciest of the three items at 2138 yen including tax. But they were definitely the most convenient fruit to consume since they are seedless!
The skin on some Japanese grapes (especially kyoho) can be quite thick, similar to the peach and pear, they are often peeled before eating. If you’re feeding grapes to small children, be sure to cut them in half first!
These grapes were so refreshing and light, making them perfect for sharing with your family during the summer! Personally, I preferred to eat them whole because they completely burst in your mouth when you bite into them!
Best fruit for sharing in the summer: Grapes
Best value: Peach