Shimizu Hakuto (white peach) jelly x 4,
New Pione grape jelly x 1, Ogonto (yellow peach) jelly x 1,
Mixed fruit jelly x 1, Muscat jelly x 1
Okayama prefecture is one of Japan’s key fruit-growing regions and enjoys a deserved reputation for excellent peaches and grapes.
Today we will be looking at an intriguing product called the Okayama Jellied Fruit Assortment, made by Okayama Prefecture Vegetables and Fruits Sales.
We all know that fruit tastes best when it is freshly picked. But many fruits have a short season and are only available fresh for a relatively limited time. Jellied fruit has been developed as a way to preserve the fruit so that it can be enjoyed year round. And the wonderful thing is that you can actually see the individual pieces of fruit perfectly preserved in the jar. So in addition to the great taste, you have the striking esthetic appeal of the product presented in a handsome glass jar, making an excellent gift idea.
The editorial team here at SHUN GATE was lucky enough to receive an Okayama Jellied Fruit Assortment to try. In this article, we give you our impressions of this delicious treat, including taste, appearance and other important considerations.
When you open the box you are presented with a brilliant array of colors that makes for a wonderful visual spectacle. The jars are embossed with a striking J logo that represents Japan, the origin of the delicious fruit from which this product is made, in a prism design. The jars feature easy-open lids that are readily removed without great effort.
The fruit pieces are distinctly visible through the transparent glass, putting on a brilliant display of color. It’s a wonderful sight to behold but just wait until you taste it!
The SHUN GATE team was particularly impressed with the Shimizu Hakuto (white peach) Jelly, made from Okayama’s premium-grade peach variety. Generously proportioned chunks of flesh topple invitingly out of the jar as you transfer it to a dish. The thing that strikes you first when you taste it is the freshness of the product. The Shimizu Hakuto variety is especially sweet and juicy, and delivers a real flavor burst in your mouth. The high-grade jelly strikes the perfect balance between flavor and viscosity, without interfering with the natural taste of the fruit, which of course takes center stage. It illustrates the level of care and attention lavished on the fruit.
The Shimizu Hakuto variety that so impressed us at SHUN GATE has a limited harvest season, starting in late July and finishing in early August, but the jellied product allows you to enjoy this wonderful fruit all year round. To find out more, we spoke with Takako Fujiwara from the Sales and Marketing Department at Okayama Prefecture Vegetables and Fruits Sales.
“If you ever have the chance to get hold of a fresh Shimizu Hakuto, you should definitely try it,” enthuses Fujiwara. “But the problem is unfortunately it has a very short season. At Okayama Prefecture Vegetables and Fruits Sales, we were determined to create a product that would enable people to sample this wonderful slice of nature all year round. The result is our jellied fruit range.”
The white peach (Hakuto in Japanese) was first grown in Okayama in 1899. Shimizu Hakuto was created almost by accident in 1932 by crossing the Hakuto and Okayama No. 3 varieties. The breakthrough came on a breeding allotment in the Shimizu district of Okayama, giving rise to the name Shimizu Hakuto.
To preserve the flavor and the delicate skin hue, each individual peach on the tree is protected in a bag from late May onwards. This also helps to reduce the need for chemical sprays. When fully ripened, the skin is soft enough to peel with the fingers and the juice of the fruit gives off a wonderful fragrance as well as adding to the sweetness.
“Shimizu Hakuto is characterized by delicate fruit fiber and strong density concentration,” notes Fujiwara. “You have to be extremely careful with the flesh of the fruit when you’re making jelly. We used to outsource some parts of the production process to subcontractors, but now we do it all in-house in order to maintain peak freshness and ensure that have complete control over the manual parboiling procedure. White peaches bruise incredibly easily; you only have to grip it just a bit too tightly in your hand. For our product to be presented as a gift, it has to be 100% free of blemishes. So we handle the peaches with the utmost of care; even the bottling is done by hand.”
The jelly is a wonderful tribute to the fresh, juicy qualities of the Shimizu Hakuto. Such a cool and refreshing product would make a great summer gift although Fujiwara is keen to point out that it’s the perfect gift for any season.
“People generally tend to leave peaches for two or three days to ripen, but what often happens is that you forget about it for instance, if you go away on holidays and then you don’t get to enjoy it at its best. The beauty of the jellied fruits is that you can eat it any time you like. You don’t have the hassle of peeling the fruit and it’s there waiting for you whenever you feel like it, so it’s the ideal gift.”
The delicately flavored Shimizu Hakuto is finessed with great care at Okayama Prefecture Vegetables and Fruits Sales to produce an outstanding product that allows you to enjoy the freshness and goodness of seasonal fruit at any time of year. Shimizu Hakuto Jelly is proudly made in Okayama, the fruit bowl of Japan.
Writer : TONAO TAMURA / Photographer : KOJI TSUCHIYA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.
The distinctive warehouse district of Kurashiki in Okayama, with its white walls stretching out along the canal, is a relaxed and beautiful spot providing a unique blend of the traditional and the modern. A wonderful place to relax and do some souvenir shopping is Kurashiki Momoko run by Okayama Prefecture Vegetables and Fruits Sales, where you can find an array of sweet treats made with fresh seasonal fruit as well as many other products. The brilliant colors of Okayama fruit in various forms create a wonderful ambience in the shop.
|Location||4-1 Honmachi, Kurashiki-shi, Okayama
Approximately 13 minutes’ walk from Kurashiki station on the JR Sanyo Honsen line
Monday - Saturday 10:00 - 18:00 (17:00 in December - February)
Sundays and public holidays 9:30 - 17:30 (17:00 in December - February)
- Last orders at the cafe are 15 minutes before closing time.