Tag Archives: Strawberries

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (end of July)

“Benihoppe” or “Red Cheeks” strawberries is a cultivar which was successfully developped no later than in 2002 in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has since been voted as the best-balanced strawberry in Japan, and Izu Peninsula being near Tokyo, we do not see too many of our fruit on our own market stands!

Now, by sheer coincidence a university student of mine, Haruka Yamaguchi/山口春香, just happened to come from a family, based in Nirayama located in the newly named Izu No Kuni City/伊豆の国市, who have switched to the growing of Benihoppe Strawberries as soon as their cultivar was made available through their cooperative!

To make things even easier, Mr. Izuzawa/伊豆沢秀慶, belonging to the government-sponsored local JA (Japan Agriculture) office, was there on hand to provide me with piles of welcome information. Mind you, I had done a bit of preparation as I had asked Haruka to distribute some business cards to the local farming community!

Mitsuo/光雄 and Tamako/玉子 Yamaguchi are the second generation of strawberry growers in their family. Strawberry culture is big in that particular area as it counts no less than 187 registered farms!
The Yamaguchis’ plot covers 1,500 tsubo (4,500 square meters), a fairly sizeable land in this country, and I don’t include other pieces of land here and there they use for re-planting and so on!
As I said, they switched from Akihime Strawberries to Benihoppe Strawberries as soon possible, and this was certainly a good move.
They employ 3 people on a permanent basis and a couple more at harvest time.

Strawberry culture is more complicated than it looks at first, and I didn’t realize how much I would have to go through (and more later) through this interview.
Abroad, for purposes of commercial production, plants are propagated from runners and, in general, distributed as either bare root plants or plugs. Cultivation follows one of two general models, annual plasticulture or a perennial system of matted rows or mounds. A small amount of strawberries are also produced in greenhouses during the off season.
Now, the Japanese seem to do all that at the same time.
End of March every year the original strawberry seedlings are first acquired from Cooperative nurseries and planted under into a “parent soil”.
Runners are encouraged to developped and are re-planted in small elongated pots called “Nira” (as of Nirayama) pots, an idea locally developped.

Interestingly enough, the “nira” pots are not filled with soil, but with a mixture of peat moss and shredded palm fronds and some fertilizer.

The fertilizer is “IBSI 1” sold at the Cooperative. The Yamaguchis were kind enough to show me a bag of it and

its contents. If one can manipulate it with bare hands (Mrs. Yamaguchi’s in this case) there is little doubt the fertilizer is easy on the environment!

The runners are encouraged onto new seedlings into at least 3 successive “nira” pots.

The strawberry plants will be cultivated separately in open air until the middle of August.

Then the vynil covers will be drawn over the greenhouses and ventilators will reduce the temperature as low as 15~18 degrees Celsius to “trick” the strawberries into believing thay are back into winter.

This is the easy way…
Until 15 years ago, when giant refrigerating ventilators were not used, all the seedlings had to be carried by truck up on the slopes of Mount Fuji as high as the Second Trek Station!

By the middle of September, one seedling will be completely cut out and examined to decide whether the time is ripe for re-planting in real soil inside greenhouses.

The greenhouses are already being prepared and this does involve more work and costly specialized equipment.

The method will then be more traditional with plasticulture system. In this method, raised beds are formed each year, fumigated, and covered with plastic to prevent weed growth and erosion.
Holes will be opened for individual re-planting.

The greenhouses along the road crossing the rice paddies.

Harvesting will start in November and lasts until May with up to 6 peaks.

But that is for the next report!

Yamaguchi Benihoppe Strawberry Farm
410-2114, Izu no Kuni, Nan-jo, 8
Tel.: 055-949-2330

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Strawberry Crumble Muffins

Still in my strawberry mode!
Here is a simple muffin recipe that will please everyone in the family (and the friend tribe!)!

Strawberry Crumble Muffins!

INGREDIENTS: For 12 muffins

-Unsalted butter: 110 g
-White sugar: 200g
-Eggs: 2 large
-Flour: 250 g
-Baking Powder: 2 teaspoons
-Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
-Strawberries: 2 cups (all cut in qaurters)
-Milk: 120 ml/cc

Crumble:
-Unsalted butter: 70 g
-White sugar: 60 g
-Flour: 100 g

RECIPE:

-Work the butter with a spatula to a creamy state. Add sugar and salt and mix well.

-Beat the eggs. Add to butter in three equal steps, mixing well every time.

-Sieve the flour and baking powder over the cream and mix well until smooth.

-Add chilled milk and mix well. Last add strawberries and delicately mix without breaking the fruit.

-Pour mixture inside 12 muffin cups

-Make the crumble:
Melt the butter. Add sugar and sieve the flour on top. Mix until it forms “blobs”

-Spread some crumble on each muffin.

-Bake in oven for 2-~25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Enjoy lukewarm or cold with some whipped cream!

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Strawberry Custard Gratin

Since I have just written about the nutritional values of strawberries, I thought that some simple strawberries recipes were in order!
Here is a simple recipe to please people of any age!

Strawberry Custard Gratin!

INGREDIENTS: 2~ people

-Srawberries: 10~
-Egg: 1 large
-Sugar: 5 tablespoons
-Cake wheat flour: 3 + 1/2 tablespoons
-Milk: 100 cc/ml/1/2 cup
-Fresh cream: 100 cc/ml/1/2 cup
-Vanilla essence: 5~6 drops

RECIPE:

-Thoroughly mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.

-Beat the egg and add to flour. Mix well. Add all the milk and half of the fresh cream. Mix well.

-Cover with cellophane paper and leave in a microwave for 2 minutes.

-Take out and add the remaining cream. Mix well. Put back into microwave oven for 2 more minutes. As it will have solidified a bit, add vanilla essence, stir and mix well until smooth.

-In an oven dish place the strawberries in a set pattern and pour in cream.

-Place some half strawberries on top for decoration. Bake in oven for 10 miutes at 200 degrees celsius.

-Eat hot or lukewarm.

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Health & Nutrition Facts in Japanese Food 8: Strawberries

As demonstrated by many food bloggers, cooking and creating great foods and drinks have become incomplete and unsatisfying when not considering the benefits or adverse effects of the same foods and drinks regardless of their taste.
I do not intend to delve into counselling or consulting, but only to offer some knowledge about the good sides of Japanese foods and drinks. I will not extoll on its possible lacks and negative aspects. After all, the Japanese are not the longest-living people in the world for no reason!
I will also offr at least one nutritious or healthy recipe at the end of each posting.

Health & Nutrition Facts in Japanese Food 7: Strawberries/Ichigo/苺

The garden strawberry is a common plant of the genus Fragaria which is cultivated worldwide for its fruit, the (common) strawberry. The fruit is widely appreciated, mainly for its characteristic aroma but also for its bright red color, and it is consumed in large quantities — either fresh, or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milk shake, etc..

The garden strawberry was first bred in Bretagne/Brittany, France in 1740 via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America , which was noted for its flavor, and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile and Argentina brought by Amédée-François Frézier, which was noted for its large size.

Cultivars of Fragaria × ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry, which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century.

Since then the Japanese have erased their lste arrival on the strawberry market with a vengeance!
Shizuoka Prefecture with more 1,500 strawberry commercial growers officially registered is called “Ichigo no Ookoku/Strawberry Kigdom” in Japan!
We can consider ourselves lucky here as 7 medium-sized strawberries a day will provide us with all the vItamin C required!
As for preserving the Vitamin C, never take the green leafy end part (sepals) off! That is unless you wish to lose half of them!

NOTE:
Eating strawberries after drinking, especially beer, will help prevent hangovers and strees thanks to the lucin and hespericin which help break up the alcohol quickly!

Hatsu Koi No Kaori/Frst Love Scent White Strawberries develpped in Japan!

For each 100g (edible parts) it contains:
-Energy: 34 kcal
-Water: 90.0 g
-Proteins: 0.9 g
-Ash: 8,5 g
-Natrium: 170 mg
-Calcium: 17 mg
-Magnesium: 13 mg
-Iron: 0.3 mg
-Vitamin B1: 0.03 mg
-Vitamin B2: 0.02 mg
-Vitamin B6: 0.04 mg
-Folic acid: 90 microg
-Vitamin C: 62 mg
-Dietary (roughage) fibre: 1.4 g

HEALTH FACTS & TIPS:

-Combined with yam/yamaimo, or with yoghurt, or with chickory, or with shiso/perilla leaves, will strengthen the digestive system, help prevent cancer and aging.

-Combined with broccoli, or with pink grapefruit, or with tomato, or with re carrot, will help prevent cancer, will help recover from stress, will help with skin rejuvenation and quality and increase brain activity.

-Combined with wakame seaweed, or with onion, or with Jew’s ear mushroom, or with peanuts (fresh), will help prevent high blood pressure, heart diseases and blood vessel hardening.

-Combined with oysters, or with kiwi fruit, or with lemon, will help with skin rejuvenation and recovery from stress.

RECIPE:

A simple recipe which will help you recover from stress and also help with skin rejuvenation!

Strawberries: 5
Chickory: 5 leaves
Olive oil (EVA): 2 tablespoons
White wine vinegar: 1 tablespoon
Salt & pepper: a little
Sugar: as you like

Take off sepals from the strawberries. Make a dressing with the olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Check the taste and add sugar if you wish.

Cut the strawberries to your preferred size. Serve them inside the chickory leaves and pour the dressing over them!

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White Strawberries Tart!

Do you remember this posting about Strawberries Facts & Tips?

I introduced the “Hatsukoi no kaori/the Scent of First Love!” White Strawberry developped in 2006. Probably the most expensive strawberry in the world!

I also mentioned that its flesh is completely white while the skin is ivory with red seeds. It is not an albino strawberry!
But the taste is somewhat average.

Just discovered that Qu’Il Fait Bon, a large cake store has just been advertizing their new tart under the name of “Shiroi Ichigo~Hatsu Koi No Kaori/白いイチゴ~初恋の香り/White Strawberries=the Scent of First Love”!

At 1,575 yen a portion (16 US $) or 11,970 yen for the whole tart (125 US $), one (s) had better make sure this first love is the last and true one!LOL

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Strawberries: Facts & Tips

I was going to start an information series on Fruits like I’m doing for vegetables, but after realizing the enormous task I decided to limit myself to the fruits popular and grown in Japan.
Believe there are enough!

Why do I start with strawberries?
Can you guess?
Shizuoka Prefecture with more 1,500 strawberry commercial growers officially registered is called “Ichigo no Ookoku/Strawberry Kigdom” in Japan!

The garden strawberry is a common plant of the genus Fragaria which is cultivated worldwide for its fruit, the (common) strawberry. The fruit is widely appreciated, mainly for its characteristic aroma but also for its bright red color, and it is consumed in large quantities — either fresh, or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milk shake, etc..

The garden strawberry was first bred in Bretagne/Brittany, France in 1740 via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America , which was noted for its flavor, and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile and Argentina brought by Amédée-François Frézier, which was noted for its large size.

Cultivars of Fragaria × ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry, which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century.

TIPS:

-Best season for natural Strawberries is May~June
For green house-cultivated, hydroponically or not, specimens the season is from December to April.

-To preserve them, don’t wash them, cover themlightly with cellophane paper and keep them inthe vegetable compartment of your refrigerator.
If you want to freeze them, get them rid of their leaves and stem first, then wash them and drain them thoroughly.

-if you wish to wash them, leave them in clear cold water for 5 minutes. If you take the leaves and stem out before washing them, they will lose a lot of their vitamin C.

-Wherever possible, don’t take the leaves and stem out before eating them. Strawberries in decoration cakes have lost large amounts of tehir beneficial elements!

-Eat strawberries after drinking alcohol or when stressed! You will be surprised how much they help!

VARIETIES:

Although Japan was late in starting growing strawberries, they probably have the largest number of varieties!

“Benihoppe/Red Cheeks”
A recent cultivar developped in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Really sweet, but with a striking balance with just enough acidity.
Most of them go to Tokyo!

“Amaou/Sweet, Round & Big”
From Fukuoka Prefecture. Sweet and a little acidity.

“Nyohou”
From Tochigi Prefecture. Juicy. Cultivation has recently decreased.

“Tochiotome”
From Tochigi Prefecture. The most common in Japan. Very sweet.

“Moikko/One More Please”
From Miyagi Prefecture. Round and refreshingly sweet.

“Sagahonaka”
From Saga Prefecture. Extensively sold in Western Japan. Very sweet.

“Hatsukoi no kaori/the Scent of First Love!”
Developped in 2006. Probably the most expensive strawberry in the world.

Its flesh is completely white while the skin is ivory with red seeds. It is not an albino strawberry!
But the taste is somewhat average.

“Aiberi/Love Berry”
From Aichi Prefecture. High qaulity and expensive. Great balance. Red flesh.

“Toyohime”
Very popular with “strawberry picking tours”. Very sweet.

“Sachinoka”
High in sugar. Popular for its high sun resistance.

“Yayoihime”
From Gunma Prefecture. Ver sweet. Especially available in December (in time for the celebrations!).

“Hinoshizuku”
From Kumamoto Prefecture. High in sugar, low acidity. Available from December, too!

“Yumenoka”
From Aichi Prefecture. Very juicy and great balance.

FACTS:

Strawberries contain a great amount of Vitamin C and flavonoids.
7 medium-sized strawberries contain enough Vitamin C for a whole day for an adult human!
Thy also contain Vitamin B1, B2.and B6, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium and a little iron.

They also contain a lot of digestible vegetal fibers, helping digestion a lot.
They also contain a lot of collagen, helping skin against blemishes!

HEALTH FACTS:

-Combined with yams, or yoghurt, or chickory, or shiso/perilla, helps strengthen the stomach, helps combat cancer and ageing.

-Combined with broccoli, or pink gapefruit, or tomato, or red carrot, helps combat cancer, stress, and helps the skin and stimulates brain activity.

-Combined with wakame seaweed, or onion, Judas’ era mushroom, or peanuts, helps prevent high blood pressure, heart diseases and blood vessels hardening.

-Combined with oyters, or kiwi fruit, or lemon, helps the skin and combats stress (and over-drinking!)

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Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, Jefferson’s Table

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