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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dekopon (Sumo) citrus --- huh?

Dekopan growing  in California

Who knew we had been breathlessly awaiting the Dekopon citrus in SoCal? Who, in fact, even knew it existed? And what is it?

 It is a "new" citrus cross--an orange, of sorts-- of the “kiyomi with the ponkan, a seedy citrus originally from India” with a thick skin, and measurably more sweetness (Brix scale) than any other orange.

 In 1972 when the Dekopon was created,the Japanese felt particular urgency in this project. "At the time, Japan was under significant pressure from the United States to open its market to imports of fresh oranges….. "The general feeling was that our humble mikan (Satsuma tangerine) would never be able to compete with the big, sweet oranges from California. Unless we could find something new to grow, the entire domestic citrus industry was doomed…” (from the Japan Times http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20090122wh.htm) Follow the link for the full story of the Dekopon’s unpromising beginnings in Japan, beginning with the theft of budwood from a government facility.
photo from the Japanese Times  
20 years later the ugly duckling has turned into a ---Sumo (US name for the Dekopan) ... is the best new fruit to come to market in years," proclaimed Toshio Joutoh, …a wholesaler in the massive Ota produce market in Tokyo. "It's perfect for sharing, so it brings people together, and the membranes are so delicate that the sections just melt in your mouth."
Chapter 2- Sumo wrestles rivals to the ground (kind of). Sumo's  story in the U.S. is just as dramatic as its' beginnings in Japan (Who knew citrus farming was such a clandestine operation?)   You can read the blow by blow account (http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-dekopon-sourcebox-20110217,0,4901497.story) in David Karp’s article, complete with more stolen budwood, last minute saves from deadly Japanese virus which would have destroyed our citrus industry,and cloak and dagger security by the growers. Now –dah-dah –                    Sumo has arrived. (Whole Foods has it, for one.)
photo from LA Times
                       
Even though doesn't look as good as Natalie Portman  in a tutu, Sumo is on my list of "try this at home. "

The Victorian Kitchen Garden mini-series has made its extremely leisurely way from England (6 weeks by Royal Mail)--- so more about it as soon as the  necessary PAL DVD player arrives. (And you thought all this time I'd forgotten ) Next:
Icelandic volcanoes and SoCal weather

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