It’s the biggest apple I’ve ever encountered: Half of one is like eating two large apples. It’s firm, dense, crunchy and every bit as sweet and delicious as a Fuji apple. In fact, it’s a mutant of a Fuji apple, discovered on a tree in Japan by an Italian fruit grower. This is the KIKU apple, not a variety, but a trademarked apple now available for delicious eating.
A Fuji is a cross between a Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Genet, developed in Fujisaki (from where it derives its name) in Aomori prefecture, Japan, in the 1930s and brought to market in 1962. It is by far the most popular apple in Japan and has become well liked in the U.S. since its introduction in the 1980s.
Fuji apples from Aomori are usually larger than the U.S.-grown varieties; the KIKU is like its Japanese cousin. It is now grown on five continents, and the ones we’re getting are from Washington state. The KIKU is only available at Foodland stores. It’s an apple worth trying: It’s juicy, sweet with a little tartness and very crisp, like a red apple should be. Eat it fresh out of hand or bake an apple pie — this apple holds its shape and flavor well when it’s cooked.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.