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Sekai Ichi Apples
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Sekai Ichi apples stand out for their size. They are extremely large— the largest specimens can even grow up to two pounds. Their large size is accompanied by a uniformly round shape. The skin has a yellow background overlaid with red stripes and a pinkish-red blush, although some fruits are entirely red if they receive enough sun while growing. The flavor is sweet but mild, with very little tartness, which gives it a sweet aroma as well. The texture is somewhat firm, crisp, and juicy.
Sekai Ichi apples are available in the fall through early winter.
The Sekai Ichi apple is a modern Japanese variety of Malus domestica that is known as one of the most expensive fruits in the world, and one of the largest apples. Sekai Ichi is a cross between the famous Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples. Because they require care to grow to their usual size, Sekai Ichi trees require extra attention during the growing season.
Apples of all varieties are particularly high in both dietary fiber and Vitamin C. The high fiber content is good for the digestive system and makes apples very filling. The Vitamin C and other antioxidants in apples support the immune system, among other health benefits. Apples also contain some potassium. An apple's nutrients are generally found in and directly under the skin, so eating an unpeeled apple is the best way to consume all of its health benefits.
Like many sweet apples, Sekai Ichis are used mainly for fresh eating rather than cooking and baking. Choose firm, unblemished fruits. They will keep for three to four months if properly stored in the refrigerator or other cool, dry location. Pair with other fruits such as blackberries, pears, or citrus, or add a bit of decadence to this expensive apple with honey or caramel.
The name Sekai Ichi means "the best in the world," or "world's number one" in Japanese. These apples typically cost the equivalent of more than $20 each in stores. The growers of Sekai Ichis give their apples extra special care, ranging from hand pollination to washing the fruits in honey, resulting in a higher price.
The first Sekai Ichis were bred in Morioka, Japan, and were introduced to the market in 1974. Today, they are still mainly grown in Japan. Specifically, they are grown in the northern Aomori prefecture, which has been the main apple-growing region in the country since 1875. Aomori prefecture now produces about half of all the apples in Japan, and exports many tons to other parts of the world.