Hanazukuri Daikon

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Hanazukuri Daikon

Hanazukuri Daikon is a regional variety of Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus) typical of the Hanazukuri district of the city of Nagai, and grown in this area since the Edo period (1600-1867). The Daikon radish belongs to the Brassicaceae family and originates from the area between central Asia and the Mediterranean sea. It was brought to Japan more than one thousand years ago via China and since then many regional varieties and local ecotypes have developed and spread throughout Japan. Today these regional varieties and their ecotypes are disappearing due to the recent introduction of a F1 hybrid (Aokubi Daikon) created by a seed company, which has a higher yield than the traditional varieties. Not only does the Hanazukuri Daikon have a lower yield than modern Daikon varieties, it can only be grown on special soil and this greatly limits its diffusion. Despite cultivation difficulties and low yields it has a unique texture: hard, bitter, crunchy flesh which is not eaten raw but ideally used in Tsukemono, a pickle recipe. It is cylindrical or conical in shape, 15cm long with a diameter of 9cm and weighs about 650g. This is about a third the size of a normal Daikon. Sowing season for the Daikon is between 15th and 20th August, when 5 or 6 seeds are placed in each small hole at a depth of 1cm, with a distance of 25cm between plants. The harvest takes place 90 days after sowing (from mid-late November) as the plants grow quite slowly. Tradition claims that the former governor Tonosama gave the radish its name when he visited the area. The governor particularly enjoyed the pickled Daikon recipe and renamed it out of gratitude. During sowing of the paddy fields, which is hard work, the radish also played an important role in providing farmers with energy. In the Eighties an attempt was made to recover the Daikon radish but with little success and more recently only a few producers have been preserving the seeds. Since 2003 the project created by Yoshizawa Yoshiichi and supported by Slow Food Yamagata has been trying to recover this traditional vegetable. Many producers have responded to the appeal they have launched to recover the Daikon radish and the 15 producers initially identified in 2003 have now been joined by a further 25. Production is increasing and meetings and conferences have been organized as well as lessons in preparing a Tsukemono (pickled vegetables) recipe using this radish. Hanazukuri daikon is produced in the Hanazukuri district of the city of Nagai in the Yamagata prefecture.

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Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Nominated by:Tokuya Kawate