In the tradition of Americanizing imported agriculture into more marketable, profitable harvests, you might have ended up calling the Kyoho grape the August Gem or the Onyx Queen. Thankfully it had a slow start in Central California in more considerate hands and maintains the name it earned in 1946 in Shizuoka Prefecture, which translates directly to “giant mountain grapes.”
Ha's Apple Farm in Tehachapi has been growing the Kyoho for more than a decade, and is currently the only vendor at local markets offering a consistent and high-quality supply of the grapes when they come into harvest in late summer. The fruit is soft and round and prone to damage, so you won't find them piled in Bacchanalian mountains of abundance like other, firmer grapes. Single bunches will be carefully placed on individual plates or encased in protective plastic prisons to prevent clumsy hands from doing damage to a sensitive crop.
Time also is an enemy. The sugar content of a good Kyoho clocks in at about 18 to 20 brix (the average table grape is closer to 12 brix), which is fantastic freshly harvested. Fermentation kicks in quickly, though — a few days to a week at best. And since desperate urgency clouds judgment, a short stint in the freezer will delay deterioration and, bonus, create a chilled summer treat for warmer days. Puree frozen fruit for a splendidly artless sorbet.
Kyohos are an end-of-summer fruit that will be around, weather and harvests willing, for a little over a month. You can find Ha's Apple Farm at multiple farmers markets including Pasadena, Hollywood, Silver Lake, Monrovia and others.
Find your local market on our interactive farmers market map.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.