You know what they say: one person’s junk is another’s treasure. This no truer than when it comes to Fuji apples. The Fuji apple was developed by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Fujisaki, Aomori, Japan, in the late 1930s. It originated as a cross between two American apple varieties the ‘Red Delicious’ and old ‘Virginia Ralls Genet’ apples. The Japanese have traditionally grown this apple in the most caring of ways ensuring eating one of these precious gems is a near-spiritual experience.
Among its wonderful traits are firm, crisp flesh and super-sweet flavor. Another of its traits is something called ‘watercore’. In hardcore scientific terms, watercore is described as a “preharvest disorder resulting in water soaked regions in the flesh, hard and glassy in appearance, only visible externally when very severe. The water soaked appearance of watercore affected fruit results from the accumulation of sorbitol-rich solutions in the intercellular spaces.” In other words, the vascular system (how water and nutrients move back and forth in the fruit) is jammed packed with sugars (aka sorbitol). Watercore-laden Fuji are considered defective in the US and other parts of the world, but in Japan they are considered a delicacy. The fact that Japanese will often pay up to double for a truly awesome Fuji bears this out quite obviously.
The trouble is that it is very difficult to tell when an apple has watercore or not. Even though Fuji tend to have watercore does not mean that every apple will have it. It’s a bit like finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. The growing season often dictates the severity of watercore: hot, dry growing conditions increase the chances of watercore. This season in the Finger Lakes was nearly perfect weather for watercore. And Wow! does it show. So, we’ve decided to offer up a treat that you may not see until after you’ve crunched through a few apples. But even if you don’t get an apple with watercore, try, try again.
So, you see, it is all perception. One person’s junk is another’s treasure, and watercore is just another of Nature’s hidden culinary treasures. Tanoshimu!