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Kyoho grapes are one of the largest and sweetest grapes on the market. Reaching the size of a small plum, they grow in uniform clusters on painstakingly pruned vines. The berries have dark purple, almost jet black skin that is thick and bitter, and usually removed for consumption. Resembling the Concord, Kyoho grapes have an incredibly juicy flesh that is almost gelatinous in texture with a moderately low acid content. They are extremely sweet with a sugar content of about 18 to 20 brix (the average table grape is closer to 12 brix). They usually contain large fully developed seeds, but seedless varieties are currently being developed, however, they generally fail to ripen to such high sugar levels.
Kyoho grapes are available in the late summer and early fall.
The Kyoho grape, pronounced kee-OH-ho, is a cross between the American Ishiharawase (Vitis labrusca) and European Centennial (Vitis vinifera). The name Kyoho, means "great or big mountain”, and true to their larger than average berry size, they were named after Mount Fuji. Although Kyoho grapes were first produced in 1937, it wasn't until 1946 in Shizuoka Prefecture that they were officially named.
Kyoho grapes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, dietary fiber and resveratrol, an important phytonutrient in maintaining heart health.
Kyoho grapes are traditionally eaten as a dessert in Japan; simply served in bowl peeled and chilled. The juice is also used in making traditional chuhai cocktails, a sugary canned alcoholic drink that comes in a variety of flavors. In other preparations they may be treated similarly to a Concord, making excellent juice, preserves and sweet wine. They are a soft grape that is prone to damage and must be handled with care. Be aware that their high sugar content makes them susceptible to fermentation. After harvest, they should be eaten quickly or placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
The careful pruning of Kyoho vines is almost an art from in Japan. It requires year-round dedication and an artistic touch to achieve what is considered the “perfect bunch”, which should consist of 30 to 35 identical evenly spaced berries. The clusters are molded to have a uniform round shape and are individually cultivated in loosely sealed white paper bags for the ultimate measure of protection from the elements.
The Kyoho grape was first bred and cultivated in Japan in 1937 specifically for the requirements of climate. In Japan’s humid weather, European grapes often suffer but American varieties tend to thrive. Japanese breeders cross-bred the two species and today it is the most popular variety in Japan, accounting for a third of all of the table grapes grown. They have since been established outside of their native home, and have become a successful crop in both California and Chile.
Recipes that include Kyoho Grapes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Mountain Side Bride||Kyoho Smash|
|Birgerbird||Kyoho Grape & Cucumber Relish|
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