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The Shinano apple is available in the fall through the winter months.
The Shinano apple is a type of Japanese Malus domestica, which was bred to compete with the more well-known Japanese apple known as the Fuji. Shinanos, sometimes called Sweet Shinanos, are a cross of Fuji and Tsugaru. The Shinano Gold variety, although it has a similar name, is not closely related. It is a cross of Golden Delicious and Senshu.
Sweet Shinano apples are solid red. Their strongest flavor characteristic is sweetness, without much acidity. The Shinano Gold variety is yellow. They are more flavorful than Fujis, and more acidic.
Apples, including Shimanos, are high in dietary fiber and Vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants known as polyphenols. A large part of an apple's nutrition resides just under the skin.
Shimanos of both varieties are good for eating fresh, because they are so sweet, but they can be used in recipes that call for more common types of apples. Choose specimens that are firm and unblemished. Shinanos are good storage apples: they last up to four months with proper storage. At home, they should be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator unless they will be consumed right away.
Japanese farms often use a clever marketing tool to sell their apples. Families are able to purchase all of the fruit from a single tree on a farm, with a guarantee of receiving a certain number of apples. Consumers can visit the farm, pick out a tree, and place a sign on it with their name to claim the fruit when they come back to pick it later in the season.
Shinanos were bred at the Nagano Fruit Tree Experiment Station in Japan. Farms and scientists have bred many varieties to compete with Fujis, and to increase the apple market in Japan. Historically, the Japanese have grown apples since the 1870s. Fujis currently make up about 50% of production.