A Taste of Summer: Konatsu

柑橘類 (kankitsurui): citrus fruit

When I go grocery shopping, I always check the discounted produce cart for deals. Sometimes the fruit there is overripe or about to expire; sometimes it’s just a bit bruised. Last week, I found a few bags of 小夏 (konatsu; literally little summer) that seemed to be in great shape but just weren’t selling. Since I’ve noticed there are a number of citrus fruits that sort of look like grapefruits but are actually sweet like oranges in Japan–for example, the haruka (はるか) that was advertised as  「すっぱくない!」 (not acidic!)–I decided to give konatsu a try.

Ah, summer! (Background is Lupicia's June magazine)

According to this site, konatsu are a regional specialty of Kochi-ken. Sold from the beginning of April to the beginning of June, the konatsu is best enjoyed after its been refrigerated and peeled like a grapefruit or orange. The peel and flesh are both a lovely yellow color.

The fruit peels easily and has a bright citrusy flavor, sort of like a cross between a lemon and an orange but with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.  There were a few seeds that were easy to remove, but the fruit was very juicy, so I had to run off to the kitchen at work to eat my afternoon snack. Regional specialty fruit from other prefectures like this tends to appear randomly at the supermarket and disappear just as quickly–if you’re not in Kochi-ken, keep your eyes peeled for this refreshing prelude to summer!

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