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New, ultra-hot pepper makes for a sweet and versatile syrup

                                The syrup can be used on drinks and dishes ranging from tea to ice cream.
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The syrup can be used on drinks and dishes ranging from tea to ice cream.

KAWASAKI, Japan >> A collaboration between industry, government and academic partners has led to a syrup featuring a new variety of pepper developed in the city of Kawasaki. The product, Kogarasyrup, went on sale in late January.

The newly developed Kogarashi pepper is characterized by its fragrance and spiciness. Kogarasyrup delivers a uniquely spicy flavor when mixed with milk or poured over ice cream.

Those involved in the project, including some university students, hope that it will become the city’s new specialty.

The small, wrinkly pepper was developed in 2018 by Ajinomoto Co. The research institute of the food manufacturing giant is located in the city’s Kawasaki ward and works in cooperation with the city’s agricultural technology support center.

Despite years since its development, the Kogarashi pepper has yet to gain popularity. Last year, Miyu Japan, a Kawasaki consulting firm that helps local farmers and restaurants develop new products, sought advice on behalf of Kinoshita Noen, a local farmhouse that produces the peppers.

The farmhouse was encouraged to attend a seminar offered jointly by Tamotsu Takemoto, a professor at Meiji University’s School of Agriculture, and the Kawasaki government, which led to a collaboration between the farmhouse, government and university in developing the syrup.

Student feedback also helped guide the group toward deciding on the syrup. Students said the new product should be versatile; students’ opinions were also incorporated into the bottle design.

“Making the product wouldn’t have been possible without the students,” said Atsushi Iwa, president of Miyu Japan.

Kogarasyrup is available at six stores in the city.

“It’s delicious when you drink it with hot water, like ginger tea,” said 22-year-old Meiji University student Kosuke Watanabe.

“We’d also like this to be used in restaurants to enliven the local community,” said Kasumi Sugita, 22, a seminar leader who coined the new product’s name.

A bottle of Kogarasyrup is about $6.50.

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