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Daikouei apples are large and conic in shape, averaging nine centimeters in diameter. The skin is thin, smooth, matte, and ruby-red to deep maroon with some lenticels, or white spots speckling the surface. The flesh is firm, crisp, moist, and cream to white. There is also a central fibrous core that runs the length of the fruit and encases many small, dark brown-black seeds. Daikouei apples are crunchy and juicy with a mild and sweet flavor.
Daikouei apples are available late fall to early spring.
Daikouei apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are a relatively new and rare Japanese variety that was registered in 2005. Also known as Sakae Large Red apples and Big Red apples, Daikouei apples are valued for their sweetness. On the Brix scale, which measures the sweetness of fruit, Daikouei apples measure at 13-15 Brix, which is comparable to Red Delicious apples.
Daikouei apples are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Daikouei apples are best suited for raw consumption as they have a very sweet flavor. Like other sweet apples, they may also be used to top creamy desserts like yogurts and parfaits. Daikouei apples pair well with cheeses such as cheddar and bleu, produce such as cherries, cranberries, figs, pears, and pumpkins, and spices and herbs such as ginger, lemon, mint, cinnamon, and vanilla. Daikouei apples will keep up to a month when stored in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.
Japan has grown and bred apple varieties for over 130 years and specializes in meticulous cultivation practices to produce large, unblemished fruit. Extensive pruning and thinning, rotating the fruit to create even sun exposure, and studying the angle of the branch versus fruit size have all contributed to a market that produces sweet, crisp, juicy, and large apples such as the Daikouei. Japanese apples also have a special bagging technique to grow the fruits without pesticide. Each apple is bagged in two layers while still immature on the tree. As it grows, pests are kept outside of the bag protecting the fruit without chemical assistance. Once the apple has grown to full size, each layer of the bag is removed to expose the fruit to the sun to gain its ruby hue. Techniques such as these require extensive labor and time to produce the fruit, but the quality of the fruit is revered by Japanese consumers.
The exact origins of Daikouei apples is largely unknown, but it is believed to have been the result of a selective breeding by an Aomori apple grower who registered the apple’s name in 2005. Today they are mainly produced in the Aomori prefecture, Japan and are found in specialty markets in Japan and Southeast Asia.