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Shinano Red apples are a medium-sized variety of apple. As the names suggests, Shinano Reds are in fact red, with heavy red striping on the skin almost entirely covering a yellow background. Inside, the flesh is very juicy and crisp, making it a refreshing eating apple. Shinano Reds are sweet, with a balancing level of acidity. The flavor and crispness of this variety makes it a good choice to eat on a hot day.
Shinano Red apples are available in the fall through winter.
The Shinano Red apple is a modern type of Japanese apple (Malus domestica) from Nagano Prefecture, which was bred to compete with the more well-known Japanese apple known as the Fuji. Shinano Red apples are a cross of Tsugaru and Vista Bella varities. The Shinano Gold variety, although it has a similar name, is not closely related and is a cross of Golden Delicious and Senshu. The Shinano Sweet is also a distinct variety.
Apples such as Shinano Reds have plenty of nutrients and only about 95 calories per medium-sized fruit. Apples are high in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), critical for a healthy digestive system, and Vitamin C, which keeps the immune system functioning. A large part of an apple's nutrition resides just under the skin.
Shinano Red apples are a good variety for eating fresh, because of their sweetness. They can be used in cooking and baking, substituted in recipes that call for more common types of apples. Pair them with fruits such as apricots and blackberries, cheeses, and nuts such as pecans, almonds, and walnuts. Choose apples that are firm and unblemished. Shinano Reds should not be stored for long periods, and should be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator unless they will be consumed right away.
Japanese farms, like those in the US, sometimes offer customers a “you-pick” experience. On some apple farms, 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. Customers 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.
Shinano Red apples were bred at the Nagano Fruit Tree Experiment Station in Japan and registered in 1997. This apple was first named Kirameki (or “sparkle” in Japanese), though the name was later changed. Shinano Reds are part of the trend of Japanese farms and scientists breeding new varieties of apples to compete with Fujis, the most popular Japanese variety, and to increase the apple market in Japan. Historically, the Japanese have grown apples since the 1870s. Fujis, the most popular Japanese apple, currently make up about 50% of production. Of all the Shinano Reds that are currently grown in Japan, about 80% of them are grown in Nagano Prefecture, one of the main apple growing regions in the country.