Apples may be one of the world’s most popular fruits, but even something so seemingly pedestrian has its peak. And when it comes to those delicious red orbs, there may be no higher point than the Fuji.
Where Did Fuji Apples Come From?
Fuji apples seem to announce their origins all up front, but when it comes to this clever cultivar, there’s more than what meets the eye—or name tag.
The fruits indeed hails from the island nation that lent them the name of its most famous mountain. And that high-scaling moniker is especially fitting for the Japanese crop. Only two other types of apple top the Fuji apple’s popularity in the United States today: The Gala apple and the perennial favorite, Red Delicious.
Yet, when it comes to breeding, Fujis are nearly as American as apple pie.
The varietal was actually the offspring of two thoroughly American types of apple: The Red Delicious and the Virginia Ralls Janet – which was, in itself, traditionally grown by former American President Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate.
Horticulturalists at the Tohoku Research Station in Fjisaki, Japan first got the idea to mix the two types together in the early 1930s, bent on breeding a fruit that was equal parts sweet and strong. But when their experiment worked better than they hoped for, they kept the delicious secret to themselves for some time.
In fact, Fuji apples didn’t get shipped from their home country until the 1960s – more than 30 years after they first took root in Japan. But the varietal was an instant success on the world stage nonetheless. And while the reason for the delayed shipments remains a secret of history, we here at Fruit Stand believe we speak for the world at large when we say, we’re pretty happy they finally let the cat out of the bag.
What Do Fuji Apples Taste Like?
That’s because Fuji apples are one of the most pleasant types of apple out there—especially when it comes to taste.
Fuji apples are, scientifically speaking, especially sweet. The cultivars register between 15-18 Brix, the measurement used to track sugar content in fruits. That means the juice of the Fuji apple is up to 18% sugar!
But the well-balanced acid and tartness of the fruit makes it a safe bite even for those without a sweet tooth. Flavor profiles for the cultivar have included descriptions as wide-ranging as “honey,” “citrus,” and “pear.”
To round it out, Fuji apples are an especially crunchy variety, making the overall effect of biting into one a particularly pleasing experience.
How to Eat Fuji Apples
Luckily for apple lovers, Fuji apples are nearly as easy to cook with as they are easy to eat. The fruit has a number of notable features that make it a good companion in the kitchen.
Chief among them is the high sugar content of the varietals juice. This makes Fuji apples a popular choice for juicing in and of themselves. But the sweet profile also lets the fruit’s juice play well with others, especially more bitter juices that may need their edge rounded off a bit, including cherries and cranberries.
But the strength behind that sweetness also makes Fuji apple the baker’s best friend. The fruit can hold its shape incredibly well under the high heat of the oven and doesn’t kowtow to many other erosive ingredients, making them a particularly good participant in pie baking.
How to Pick the Best Fuji Apple
Still, for all their strong points, Fuji apples aren’t without their detriments.
The fruits may be strong and sweet but they don’t hold up particularly well to cold weather. In fact, Fuji apples are considered a “low-chill” fruit, meaning they don’t need as many chilly days or nights to flower as their fellow fruits.
While this is great news for warmer-climate apple lovers in locales like South America and South East Asia, it means growers in more regularly apple-infested areas like the Northern United States need to take a few more precautions when procuring the popular cultivar.
The fruits are late bloomers: They don’t really get into season until November or December in the Northern Hemisphere and May or June in the Southern Hemisphere. So if you’re after the freshest fruit, it’s best to look for Fuji apples from those areas accordingly at those times.
The cultivar does refrigerate well for up to 2 months, however, so many of them are shipped from warmer areas to colder ones after the initial blush of their blossoming period. And, when looked over properly, Fuji apples can be happily stored for as long as 6 months.
Regardless, the signs of a perfectly ripe apple include a bright red tint to the skin, a lack of any bruises or gouges, and a uniform firmness to their heft. And when you bite into that perfect Fuji apple, you’ve truly reached the pinnacle.