Grown exclusively in Yame, “Rainbow” Kiwi fruit may not look all too different from regular Kiwi fruit on the inside, but slice one open and you’re in for a treat! They are grown in limited amounts, as when the Kiwi trees blossom, farmers will individually inspect every branch in the orchard, rigorously pruning the lesser blossoms so that only the very finest Kiwis are allowed to ripen. True to its name, the insides of this fruit are striking shades of red, yellow and green. They’re not only bursting with color, but with flavor too; Rainbow kiwi’s are noticeably sweeter than regular kiwi fruit, with almost no tartness or dryness. A truly unique delicacy, not to be missed- taste the rainbow!
“Mikan” are a variety of oranges grown in Japan, and harvested mainly in winter. These small, sweet and deliciously moreish oranges are quite similar to clementines or tangerines- only sweeter! They are mainly grown in special orchards around the town of Tachibana. Orange trees are planted in allotments and the roots are covered with mulch and white tarp to prevent excess rainwater absorbed from the tree from reaching the delicate fruits. The result is a delectably sweet citrus taste with only the faintest hint of tartness. Cheap, cheerful and sold by the bag, most people find themselves devouring five or six in a single sitting! For the Japanese, a warm and toasty kotatsu, a cup of green tea and a bag of Mikan are a must on chilly days; what better place to experience a traditional Japanese winter than Yame!
Japanese pears or ‘Nashi’ are cultivated across Yame and the greater Kyushu area. Nashi have a delicate flavor and texture; they are mouthwatering sweet and almost melt-in-the-mouth soft. Although delicious on their own, they are widely used in other products- from chocolate to cakes and even a wonderfully fruity curry mix!
Japanese plum orchards are a site to behold in spring, and with the blossoms come ‘Ume’ or Japanese plums. Smaller than their western relatives, Ume have a variety of culinary uses; most famously as Umeboshi or pickled plums, the tart, cherry like fruits often found in Japanese bentos around the world. Here in Yame, they are also fermented to produce a light and sweet plum wine called Umeshuu that is absolutely perfect on balmy summer evenings. Chicken breasts, seared over a charcoal grill, and smothered in crushed ume and shiso herbs make the perfect accompaniment, not to be missed.
You won`t find better strawberries anywhere else in Japan- the Emperor himself guarantees it! Yame `Amao` strawberries have been cultivated since 1955, and on numerous occasions been selected to receive the prestigious `Emperors Choice` taste award- a title given to only the finest produce in Japan. “Amao” is actually an anagram for “akai, marui, amai ookii” which translates to “red, round, sweet and large.” One bite and we`re sure you`ll agree! Overflowing with sun-kissed sweetness and gloriously huge, most will struggle to eat one in a single bite. Although available most of the year round, the winter crop is especially recommended, and the best specimens can go for outrageous prices. Try one yourself and find out why!
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