The Aomori apples are the most widely grown and cultivated apple variety in Japan.
This interest in the Aomori apples has remained the same for over 100 years.
What is it that makes Aomori apples so beloved by the Japanese and delicious?
These are the long-held secrets of Aomori’s apples!
What Are Aomori Apples
Tsugaru region is the center of Aomori Apple production. In the past, this region seemed unsuitable for agricultural cultivation due to harsh winters in this northernmost prefecture on Honshu island.
Though agricultural science has made great strides due to advanced selective breeding techniques, in the past farmers were hindered by cold weather damage – particularly to rice crops.
At one time, the situation appeared dire.
But then apple cultivation–which thrives in cool climates–began to spread rapidly after the Meiji Era, leading to an explosive apple industry that accounts for 56% of Japan’s apple produce today.
If you ask the Tsugaru people to what they attribute the success of their apple industry, they will say it is their own spirit and unique character traits.
The farmers that grow the Aomori apples are often described as serious and competitive. There is a word in the Tsugaran dialect which is ”Joppari” that stands for ”A driving force for growing better apples”.
They achieved stunning success through thoughtful consideration and meticulous work.
Why Are Aomori Apples So Highly Regarded?
Each year, Japan produces over 50 tons of Aomori apples, which is more than half of Japan’s annual apple harvest.
But Aomori isn’t just the leader in quantity; their quality is also unsurpassed around the globe.
Many tourists visiting Japan want to try these apples and the comments are usually ”This is the tastiest apple I have ever eaten”.
So, let’s dive deep and see what makes the Aomori Apples so highly regarded.
1. Next-Level Cultivation Techniques
From late January through March, the apple trees in Aomori are mostly grown through manual labor over the course of one year.
During this time, the region experiences deep snowfall.
Regardless of this, work must begin; training and pruning each tree so its branches receive sunlight; this requires professional skill – as one local saying goes: “It takes a boy to prune 1000 trees to become a man”.
Bees are also very important for the pollination process. In fact, the horn-faced bees (also known as Osmia Cornifrons) are in charge of pollination.
The next step is clipping the leaves and turning ripening fruits so they get enough sunlight and grow.
All in all, it takes an estimated 223 hours to cover 10 acres of Aomori apple trees. But thanks to the farmer’s hard work and high-quality techniques, they are able to produce the delicious apples famous throughout Aomori and beyond.
2. Extreme Temperature Difference
Cultivating apples requires a climate with extreme temperature differences between day and night, which makes Aomori ideal.
During the daytime, apples grow under sunlight while at night they store sugar content to protect themselves from freezing temperatures. With age, these sweeter and juicier apples become.
In this region, the winters are harsh.
Most of the Tsugaru region is covered in snow for at least three months each year.
Also, the Mountain Iwaki has made the ground rich in volcanic ash from eruptions in the past.
This means that the soil is rich in minerals.
While the earth is rich, it is the actual cold temperatures that make the apple have a vivid color.
3. Special Storage Facilities
The harvested apples are first refrigerated before shipment to market. Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage facilities have the ability to keep apples at optimal freshness.
They work by controlling airflow inside the units and are often used by Aomori apple farmers.
Thanks to the growing number of controlled atmosphere storage facilities, the people of Japan can enjoy Aomori apples in all seasons.
Before the apples are shipped, special sensors check things like:
- Sugar content
If everything checks out, the shipment can continue.
4. Passion For Growing Apples
Apart from climate (which is the primary reason why these apples are so tasty), and the sophisticated storage facilities, the growers also contribute a lot!
The people that grow the Aomori apples have honest hearts and really do consider their jobs a passion.
In the Aomori dialect, those with stubborn hearts are known as “Joppari”, making the prefecture ideal for apple cultivation.
It is the people that add the final ingredient and the end result is a perfect apple.
Health Benefits of Aomori Apples
While all apples are known for their health benefits, the Aomori apples seem to have a few extra benefits.
Aomori apples provide health benefits including:
- Neurological health is improved. The Aomori apple has nutrients that are known for improving neurological health.
- Reduces cognitive decline in older people. The most common compound found in Aomori apples, the polyphenols, has been known to improve memory and concentration, especially in older people.
- Prevent dementia. Again, the polyphenols aid the body in ”staying young” and prevent health conditions such as dementia.
- Lower your risk of suffering from a stroke. Due to the high level of antioxidants in these apples, studies have shown that they can lower stroke risk.
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol. Consuming Aomori apples can reduce LDL levels (bad cholesterol), by up to 10% Because of the high levels of dietary fiber in Aomori apples, this helps to lower cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream.
- Lowers your risk of developing diabetes. Aomori apple polyphenols act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and their high fiber content regulates the intestinal absorption of glucose.
Aomori apples are highly sought after because they are grown in perfect conditions by people that have a passion for growing apples.
If you find yourself in Japan, make sure to try these amazing and healthy apples.
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