Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens ＃04 STRAWBERRIES
Soil Makes All the Difference
May 10, 2021
Though the times are always changing, there are certain timeless ingredients from Japan that will never go out of style. Yukio Hattori, president of Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo, introduces unique labors of love—items grown and produced with care and integrity by hardworking suppliers across the country.
Firm, sweet and juicy, the strawberries grown by Kazutoshi Murata at his family farm in Ibaraki prefecture are snatched up by high-end ryotei restaurants, hotels, and celebrity patissiers around Japan. Bee pollination and planting are timed so that the first marketable harvest meets the high demand of the festive year-end season, around December 20. Soil analysis, Murata says, is key to a successful crop.
After harvest he plows the plants into the earth along with rice bran, pig manure, rice hulls, and a microbe mix. Then he floods the soil with water and covers it with a tarp for two months. “This reduces the percentage of unfriendly bacteria, which have low heat resistance,”Murata explains. Fish powder, kombu, and collagen are among the organics that replenish the balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium as necessary.