Food - Drink
What You Should Know About Japan's Aomori Apples
By CATHERINE WOMACK
Japan has a booming artisanal fruit industry, and carefully-grown fruit of rare and exceptional varieties can sell for hundreds of yen per piece. In Aomori prefecture, more than half of the country's apples are grown, and even more affordable varieties of Aomori apples are special for many reasons.
After a major political shift in 1868, samurai throughout Japan were left without jobs, including in Aomori, where the government gave samurai apple trees to tend to instead. Despite the cold climate, apples thrived in Aomori and led to the production of many varieties, including Fuji apples, named after the town of Fujisaki.
Aomori apple farmers use a 10-stage growing process throughout the year to produce the best fruit. These steps include pollinating; pruning small or misshapen fruits to keep trees from depleting their nutrients; propping up the trees to prevent breakage; and using reflective sheets to increase sun exposure and color the apples evenly.
Apples grown in Aomori prefecture, especially Fuji, Jonagold, and Mutsu varieties, are great for using in pies, crisps, and other baked goods, if not just eaten out of hand. Numerous cafes and restaurants in the area boast dishes inspired by the famous apples, from apple strudel and apple gelato to jellies and candies.