Even before Japan’s exquisite square watermelons made headlines, unique and exotic fruits already existed in the country’s natural flora. One of which is akebi, a native fruit mainly cultivated in Japan’s northern Tohoku region, which managed to shock foreigners on their first encounter with it. If you want to find out more about this bizarre, purple Japanese fruit, keep on reading!
The akebi has a potato-like shape and can easily be mistaken for a vegetable. Its primary attraction, though, is its eccentric purple color that makes it appear more like a vegetable rather than a fruit. And while purple is a beautiful color commonly associated with royalty and glam, it’s not a very effective hue in stimulating one’s taste buds.
Unfortunately for first-time eaters, digging into akebi’s white meat without caution might end up in a rather unpleasant experience! Unlike other fruits that require no special treatment, eating akebi has to be done right if you want to make the best out of the fruit.
Apparently, the slimy, liquid-like matter that serves as a coating for the akebi’s seed is the right portion to eat if you wish to savor the sweetness of the fruit. You simply slurp it fresh from the purple pod, leaving out the seeds if you like.
Don’t worry about leaving out a huge chunk of the fruit. Its pod, for instance, can be cooked just like a vegetable. It’s typically sautéed or deep fried in Tohoku cuisine.
Apart from its unique look, akebi is also sought after because of its limited availability. It’s known to flourish for only two weeks at the beginning of the fall season. Normally, it can be bought at high-end grocery stores and select fruit boutiques.
Its limited availability is, in fact, the reason why there are still a lot of Japanese locals who haven’t tasted the fruit yet. So if you’re planning to get and try one, you better scout early next fall season!
It remains a big question mark if akebi does offer a proven significant health benefit to its consumers. Nonetheless, some believe that the fruit contains vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and dietary fiber that altogether helps maintain a good skin complexion, regulate bowel movement, and maintain good blood pressure.
While there is no official medical statement claiming akebi to be one of the healthiest fruits, it’s good to know that it has its own fair share of good stuff despite its peculiar look and dominant bitter taste. Never judge a fruit by its color! The next time you’re in the Tohoku region, consider trying out this bizarre Japanese fruit and see how it tastes for yourself.