The other day, I got a box of Sun Fuji apples from my father. My father comes from Nagano (aka Shinshu), which is famous for its apples.
28 pieces in total.
Fuji is the most popular apple variety in Japan, and is also popular in China and the United States. In Japan, Fuji apples are cultivated with "bags", and Sun Fuji refers to Fuji apples cultivated without bags. As the name implies, Sun Fuji apples get a lot of sunshine while growing, and are flavorful than Fuji apples, but are inferior in appearance and shelf life.
In Japan, these translucent, yellow portions, called "mitsu" (lit. syrup) of an apple, are highly praised. These portions contain sorbitol, and are actually less sweet than other portions of the apple. Most Japanese mistakenly believe that these portions contain syrup, and some may even consider that syrup is injected into the apple, using a syringe.
You may find this article interesting. In the United States, watercore-laden apples are considered defective. Anyway, apples with mitsu in them are highly mature, sweet ones, and I myself am a little disappointed when I don't see mitsu in apples.
I don't want to cook such high-quality apples in any way, but my children do not care for apples very much, so I simmered two of them with 25% sugar.
I used "san on tou" (a type of brown sugar) instead of normal sugar.
Fuji apples are favorites here in my house. I use them in pies and tarts if my kids don't devour them all before I can bake with them.
Cheryl: Really? I thought that Americans would prefer tart rather than sweet apples to make pies.
Didn't know about the watercore in Fuji apples. I have had bought Fuji apples from the store with watercore & thought they they were rot. I cut off the water core part & throw them out. Now I know better & will be sure not to cut off the water core out. I learn something new everyday..Thanks, Hiroyuki!
Katherine in Southern California
I used to just use tart apples (usually Granny Smith) when baking, but my mother-in-law got me started with using Fujis in baked goods. I actually prefer a less tart pie.
The whole thing with watercore apples in the US seems to stem from their not having as long a shelf life, similar to the firmness of tomato. When I worked for one of the major grocers here, there was a constant push to get the fruit to the sales area quickly and keep it out as long as possible.
I also remember my grandmother picking apples when I was a child, and she only wanted the ones that looked like that when she cut them apart. Her Granny Smith trees produced the most amazing pies.
Katherine, Cheryl, Ruminating Roy: Thank you all for your respective comments.
Sadly, Granny Smith apples are not available here in Japan, and Kougyoku 紅玉 (Jonathan in English) is the variety I like for its small size and tartness.
Aha! For some reason I've always considered watercore apples as superior, but with no explanation for it -- now I think about it maybe it's because I spent part of my childhood in Japan.
YSC: I was one of those "stupid" (laugh) Japanese who thought that watercore was "mitsu" (syrup) and wanted to have apples with a lot of it.
My family grows organic Fuji apples just like this and we prize our apples for their big, natural water core. They ripen fully on the tree and we tend to sell them as-is without sending the apples to a packing house to be washed. They definitely taste superior from the usual North American standard of apple. You don't even need to add sugar because they are naturally sugary sweet, juicy, and crisp. The watercore is definitely a natural part of the apple and it's confusing to people who don't have a lot of experience on a farm.
What is the cost of Sun Fujis in Japan? All apples in North America are grown this way, and the Fuji apples cost anywhere from about $3/kg kilo to $10/kg (if my conversion from lbs is correct) in Canada, depending on the time of year and whether or not the apples are organic.
Joanna: Thank you very much for your comment! I didn't expect to receive a comment from an apple grower in North America!
Sounds like your apples are of top quality!
(I'm sometimes surprised to see waxed apples even today.)
My wife has already mentioned that I don't have to add that much (25%) sugar, and I will add only a few tbsp of it next time. Or, maybe no sugar at all (just slice some apples and microwave them).
At supermarkets in Japan, Sun Fuji (and other) apples are sold for around 100 yen apiece. Suppose that one apple weighs 350 g, that will translate into 286 yen per kg.
According to today's flyers, Sun Fujis are sold for:
328 yen 6 pieces (55 yen apiece, very cheap by Japanese standards)
3,980 yen (5 kg, 12-18 pieces), which is 796 yen per kg.
2,500 yen (14 pieces)
These two are meant for gifts.
I decided to sit down and properly do the math for our prices.
The farm we have happens to be extremely small, just under 2 acres, so we fill our orders through word of mouth, with some apples being resold to some specialty supermarkets and restaurants in our immediate local area. I wouldn't call my family a commercial farm, but we have organic certification and we could legally advertise our apples as being organic.
For comparison, we sell apples for $2.20/kg (around 183 yen/kg), direct from the farm to our customers. At a supermarket stocking the same quality of apples, the price would be more like $6.60/kg (around 550 yen/kg). When apples go on special at the height of apple season, the price may dip down to about $4/kg (333 yen/kg). The high-end apples aren't quite as expensive as the gift apples but they are more likely to be blemished and have a less even colour.
More common in North America are apples like Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. They're as cheap as $0.66/kg (55 yen/kg). A lot of them are waxy or have many blemishes, though.
Personally my favourite variety of apple is the Gala apple, which I think is a little crisper than the Fuji. We only have 4 trees on our property so the crop is very short-lived. They have thin skin and a very light, crisp and sweet flavour.
Though somewhat less commonly grown than Red and Golden Delicious, they are very popular.
Joanna: Thanks again for your very detailed information.
Yes, yes, I have learned from eGullet that Granny Smith is a popular variety and is cheap! It's surprising to see the great difference in price between Fuji and other varieties in your country and that there is demand for Fuji despite its high price!
Joanna, I love eating apples and was so interested to read your comments! We have one apple tree in our back garden which used to produce wonderful Golden Delicious apples. Unfortunately, the last 2 years we lost the crops due to codling moth :( I don't know what to do short of spraying!
Hiroyuki, I prefer green apples like Granny Smith in general. In fact, my favourite apple (which isn't easily found) is the Newton Pippin, a crisp green apple. I think it's an older heirloom type.
YSC: I'm sure I would like Granny Smith if I were in the United States because of its flavor and PRICE!
Newton Pippin is new to me. According to Wikipedia, "piney aroma"?! That should be a delicious variety.
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