Welcome to our vegetable guide!
Here, you'll find detailed information about a variety of vegetables, including their unique features, origins, and popular uses in different cuisines.
The Japanese cucumber, known as KYURI, is delightfully crispy and pairs well with salads or pickles. It is harvested at an early stage, resulting in a thinner and shorter fruit compared to the local variety. A significant benefit is the absence of seeds since they have not yet developed, making it seedless. Furthermore, it has less bitterness, so there's no need to peel it, and it is burpless.
Eating cucumbers during summer helps prevent heat stroke due to their high water content, which helps cool down your body. Additionally, they are an excellent vegetable to consume when experiencing heat fatigue and have lost your appetite, as they can help prevent dehydration.
At Suzuki Farm, we harvest KYURI Cucumber mostly between May and September. It is an annual vine plant that grows quickly, with vines reaching over 6' tall on supporting frames. The hairy vines have several pointed lobes, and the leaves grow alternately on them. Each plant can be harvested for 8-10 weeks. Don't miss out on trying our KYURI Cucumber this season!
The Japanese Eggplant, known as NASU, has a soft, tender, and melty flesh with black to dark purple skin. Compared to other eggplant varieties, it is not very big in size. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with oil, which it absorbs and retains wonderfully, transforming into a smooth texture when cooked. In Japan, it is commonly used for "Tempura" and "Ohitashi" (boiled eggplant with dressing).
Eggplant is said to be native to India and was introduced to Japan during the Nara Period (710-794), where it developed into unique varieties over time. In some regions, it is still referred to as "Nasubi." As an aside, have you ever wondered why it is called an "eggplant"? In Southeast Asia, where eggplant is believed to have originated, egg-shaped white or green eggplants are commonly available, hence the name "eggplant" in English.
At Suzuki Farm, we offer three types of eggplants, with NASU being the most popular and a common variety of Japanese eggplant. We mostly grow NASU Eggplant from June to September, as this variety loves hot weather and sunshine, producing a lot of fruit until early fall. To ensure longevity until the late season, pruning and trimming are key factors, and we select only one fruit per branch to avoid tiring out the eggplant tree in its early stage. Mr. Suzuki, our farm founder, always says, "Eggplant is one of the most challenging produce items, and you are a good farmer if you can grow it well."
KAMO Eggplant is a traditional Kyoto vegetable grown in the ancient and historic capital city of Japan. This popular eggplant adds vibrant color to the culinary scene during the summer months in Kyoto. With its velvety skin, KAMO is uniquely dense, round, and relatively large, giving it a stately appearance that has earned it the nickname "Queen of Eggplant" in Japan.
One of the most famous KAMO Eggplant dishes is "Dengaku" (Miso-glazed Eggplant). KAMO is perfect for deep-frying, as it absorbs less oil and its dense flesh maintains its firmness when cooked. Its fleshy texture is both satisfying and creamy when cooked.
At Suzuki Farm, we harvest KAMO Eggplant mostly from June to September, just like our NASU Eggplant. Many top chefs love this variety for its quality, so why not try cooking with it this season?
MIZU Eggplant is a regional variety grown in the Osaka area, known as "Senshu" during the Edo era. People in Osaka have been enjoying this eggplant for over 400 years, and its sweetness is one of its most distinctive features, making it delicious even when eaten raw. With its thin skin and higher water content, MIZU Eggplant has a unique texture and subtle sweetness. In Japan, it is often served raw in salads or lightly pickled. Its shape resembles that of a light bulb or pear, and its skin color ranges from black to dark purple.
At Suzuki Farm, we pay close attention to each MIZU Eggplant plant, as it is prone to scratches from its own leaves and thorns.
PEAMAN Bell Pepper (Green and Red)
There are many types of Capsicum available, including various colored bell peppers and chili peppers, which can be found in most supermarkets. PEAMAN Bell Pepper is a unique variety that is harvested while still green and immature, and it removes the spiciness found in other chili peppers, leaving behind a distinct bitterness and aroma.
Children tend to dislike green bell peppers because of their strong, pungent flavor. However, these dark green vegetables are incredibly rich in vitamins, which can help prevent heat fatigue, increase energy, and improve blood circulation. Adding green bell peppers to your meals can keep your blood vessels clean and open.
Green PEAMAN is usually harvested about 40 days after flowering when they are relatively young, while red PEAMAN takes around 70 days after flowering as they require more time to ripen. The red variety is richer in vitamins than the green one, and has a slightly sweet taste with less bitterness due to its maturity. Both green and red PEAMAN can be used in various dishes, such as stir-fries with shredded beef or stuffed bell peppers.
Suzuki Farm grows PEAMAN Bell Pepper from June to October, and the red PEAMAN variety is harvested in August.
The SHISHITO pepper has become one of the most popular Japanese vegetables in the United States. The name is a combination of two Japanese words: "SHISHI," which means "Guardian Lion," and "TOGARASHI," which means "chili pepper." This is because the tip of the pepper resembles a lion's head, at least according to some people. Do you agree?
The SHISHITO pepper is small and easy to cook. While most SHISHITO peppers are mild, some may be spicy. Some people say that one in ten peppers is hot, but we have noticed a higher ratio of spicy peppers during hot summers at Suzuki Farm.
The reason why some SHISHITO peppers turn spicy is still unknown. The most compelling theory is that certain climate conditions, such as dry air and high temperatures, may affect SHISHITO pepper growth. Another theory is that they become spicy when harvested later than usual. If you are growing SHISHITO peppers in your garden, it may be better to water them periodically to provide a stress-free environment for them.
At Suzuki Farm, we grow SHISHITO peppers from June to October. Once in a while, we try to guess which peppers are spicy and which are mild, and we are mostly correct, but not 100% of the time.
MANGANJI Sweet Chili Pepper (Green and Red)
MANGANJI Sweet Chili Pepper is a delicious and savory pepper that is well-known as a summer vegetable from Kyoto. However, its history is not as long as that of other vegetables such as "KAMO Eggplant" and "MIZUNA Leaves." This variety was bred in the early 1900s and is a hybrid variety that combines Kyoto's traditional variety with an American variety. The pepper gets its name from MANGANJI Temple in Maizuru city, Kyoto, where it was bred and grown.
The MANGANJI Sweet Chili Pepper can grow up to six inches long and has a tapered, slightly curved pod. The flesh is thick, soft, and sweet. Sometimes, the fruit skin will turn partly dark purple to black to protect itself from the sun, but don't worry as this is due to phytochemicals like anthocyanin. After heating, the skin will turn a beautiful dark green, and once it matures, it will turn a vibrant red and become even sweeter and softer, like the PEAMAN bell pepper.
To enjoy the sweet flavor of the MANGANJI pepper, you can roast or deep-fry it. In traditional Kyoto home cooking (called "Obanzai"), it is often stewed, stir-fried, or used for stuffed peppers. However, if you've never tried MANGANJI Sweet Chili Pepper, we recommend grilling it first. Simply bake it in a frying pan without using oil until the surface is lightly charred, and add sea salt and black pepper for an amazing flavor.
At Suzuki Farm, we grow MANGANJI Sweet Chili Peppers from June to October. While it's not yet a widely known or familiar vegetable, we hope you'll enjoy experimenting with different peppers in your cooking, including the delicious MANGANJI Sweet Chili Pepper.
The MOMOTARO Tomato is a popular type of large-sized tomato in Japan. It was developed by the Takii Seed Company in Kyoto and has several unique features that set it apart from other tomatoes. For example, it has a pink-colored skin, tastes sweeter when ripened on the vine, has a highly flavorful and sensitive soft flesh, and is the best tomato variety for eating raw. Its name is inspired by a hero in one of Japan's most famous fairy tales, who was born from a giant peach! This is why the skin color of the MOMOTARO tomato is pink like a peach, rather than red. Over time, the variety has been improved to resist various diseases and pests, and to adapt to different seasons and regions.
Tomatoes originated from the Andean highlands and prefer high temperatures during the day, cooler temperatures at night, and a basically dry condition. Knowing the origin of the tomato is key to understanding how to maintain a disease-free product, and to get high quality and productivity.
You can enjoy the MOMOTARO Tomato raw as a snack or salad ingredient. Their natural sweetness and juiciness make them delicious on their own, without any dressing or seasoning. Alternatively, you can lightly cook them in soups, stews, sauces or stir-fries, and enhance their flavor with herbs, spices, or cheese. You can also make tomato juice or smoothies with them, which provide a boost of vitamins and antioxidants. It's worth noting that due to their juiciness, it's not recommended to put MOMOTARO Tomato slices in bread, such as sandwiches.
At Suzuki Farm, we currently only sell MOMOTARO Tomato seedlings, and do not produce them commercially. We have only a few experimental productions, as we find it challenging to deliver tender MOMOTARO Tomato fruits in good condition.
Sweet Cherry Tomato
Cherry tomatoes are a beloved vegetable enjoyed by many as a snack. Originating from South America, they have spread to Europe, North America, and Asia. While initially used only as ornamental plants, they have become a popular vegetable due to their improved taste. Some Japanese varieties have been further enhanced to offer a stronger sweetness, making them especially appealing.
Cherry tomatoes are also rich in high antioxidant β-carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene, making them a nutritious addition to any meal. Their small size makes them easy to eat whole, without the need for cutting, and they add a delightful pop of color to any dish. They are ideal for salads, cooking, and as a healthy snack for the whole family.
At Suzuki Farm, we strive for the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity in our cherry tomatoes. This is achieved by not only selecting top-quality varieties from Japan but also by putting a lot of time and effort into enriching the soil with our care and affection. Our sweet cherry tomatoes are available for purchase from May to October.
Green SHISO (OHBA, Perilla)
Green SHISO belongs to the Perilla family and is the most well-known herb in Japan, making it an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Raw SHISO leaves are commonly used as condiments to savor their unique aroma with SUSHI, and they are also used in salads, stir-fries, and deep-fried dishes. Green SHISO tempura is also incredibly delicious! In some regions, Green SHISO leaves are referred to as OHBA, which translates to "big leaf." However, the term OHBA is only used to refer to the product, not the plant or seedling.
SHISO leaves have a well-known refreshing aroma due to an essential oil composition called "perillaldehyde." In addition, SHISO leaves are believed to stimulate appetite, metabolism, and perspiration, as well as serve a preservative function. As a result, SUSHI chefs utilize Green SHISO not only for color decoration and aroma but also for its preservation qualities.
SHISO leaves have a tendency to spoil quickly, but you can extend their shelf life by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and storing them in a plastic bag. For even longer-lasting freshness, wrap each leaf individually. You may also lightly wet the SHISO leaves and store them in a plastic bag in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator.
At Suzuki Farm, we cultivate Green SHISO year-round in our greenhouse. During the summer, we provide half shade to prevent the young leaves from hardening under strong sunlight. In contrast, during the winter, we utilize gas heaters to maintain temperatures between 70-80F, which the plants prefer. We strive to maintain a consistent supply of high-quality, hard-to-find fresh Green SHISO leaves throughout the year. Come and get your fresh Green SHISO leaves at Suzuki Farm!
Red SHISO (Perilla)
Red SHISO leaves have a unique aroma and reddish-purple color, with oval-shaped leaves featuring serrated edges. The natural hue of Red SHISO leaves is burgundy. Green SHISO leaves found in many Japanese restaurants are actually a variant of Red SHISO leaves.
The color of Red SHISO is attributed to a pigment called "anthocyanin." When mixed with acid, this pigment turns bright red, making Red SHISO leaves a popular choice for adding color to pickled plums "UMEBOSHI" and pickled ginger "BENI SHOGA." The leaves can also be salted or used for juice. To prepare, rinse the leaves thoroughly, rub them with salt, then squeeze out the excess water.
Red SHISO is a photoperiod crop, which means that it automatically develops flower buds and blooms when daylight hours become shorter. The bloomed stem "HANAHO" and stems with immature seeds "HOJISO" are both edible and add pomposity and splendor to any dish, with their good aroma. Many top chefs use them for banquets and delicacies.
At Suzuki Farm, we grow Red SHISO from June to September because they prefer high temperatures. Mr. Suzuki recommends drinking SHISO juice in the summer to prevent heat fatigue. Here are some tips to make the perfect SHISO juice: 1) Use half Green SHISO and half Red SHISO to achieve a perfect balance of color and aroma, and 2) After adding your favorite sweetener, don't forget to sprinkle a little sea salt and plenty of lemon juice to enhance the flavor and deliciousness. Keep it refrigerated and serve cold!
MITSUBA (Japanese Parsley)
MITSUBA is a member of the same family as parsley in the States and its leaves are used as an herb in Japan. The name MITSUBA comes from the way the leaves are divided into three parts, as "MITSU" means "three" and "Ba" means "leaves" in Japanese. Add MITSUBA to your MISO soup or clear soup to instantly add a vibrant color! It is a must-have herb to take your home cooking to the next level. Many think MITSUBA leaves represent a spring aroma. It is an indispensable herb in Japanese cuisine.
MITSUBA is a perennial plant. It grows 12” to 20” tall, and the leaves are oval and tapered to a point. The compound leaves are alternate and consist of three leaflets. The leaf margins have serrated double serrations. The flowering season is summer, and the flower stalks stretch out to bloom small white flowers consisting of 5 petals. After flowering, it bears oval fruit.
At Suzuki Farm, MITSUBA is a seasonal crop in spring, it is cultivated all year round due to higher demand in winter. Therefore, we sow more seeds in early autumn and grow them in greenhouses so that they can be shipped from the end of the year to March. We harvest them without cutting the roots, bundled, and delivered to everyone.
NIRA Garlic Chives
NIRA, also known as Garlic chives, are a popular vegetable in East Asia and have been consumed in Japan for a long time. The season for NIRA is from spring to early summer. These chives are rich in vitamins and minerals which help prevent swelling, improve bowel movements, and aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates and iron. They also have a distinct aroma similar to garlic due to the presence of "allicin", a compound found in NIRA. Allicin is known to relieve fatigue and suppress the rise in blood sugar levels. It is better absorbed when combined with vitamin B1, found in pork and grains. This is why many recommend pairing NIRA with pork dishes.
There are many delicious ways to enjoy NIRA, such as in stir-fries, GYOZA dumplings, soups, egg dishes, and rice porridge. To fully savor the sweetness and umami of NIRA, it's best to heat it with minimal cutting and not to overcook it as it can lose its color and flavor.
To grow NIRA, it's best to choose a sunny and well-drained location for seeding or transplanting. After sowing the seeds, they should be watered frequently. After germination, thin out the plants to widen the space between them. NIRA is strong and has a robust vitality, with new leaves growing even if the plant is cut. As a result, it can be harvested several times a year.
At Suzuki Farm, we only grow and harvest the green leaves of NIRA. Please enjoy this highly nutritious and heat-tolerant plant, one of the few vegetables we can harvest in the middle of summer!
If you're looking for a nutritious vegetable, consider trying MOROHEIYA. Originally from Africa, the Middle East, and India, it has deep green leaves and is also known as Jew's Mallow or Egyptian spinach. Although it resembles SHISO leaves, it is not a member of the perilla family. This leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a popular ingredient in dietary supplements. Due to its high nutritional value, MOROHEIYA is also known as the "King of Green Vegetables" or the "Mighty Vegetable."
Raw MOROHEIYA has a bitter taste, but take care not to overcook it as it will lose its nutrients. Cooking with oil can increase your intake of vitamins A, E, and K. We highly recommend MOROHEIYA tempura or stir-fry! When cutting the leaves, they become sticky. If you enjoy NATTO fermented beans, they go well with chopped MOROHEIYA leaves.
Gardening MOROHEIYA is relatively easy in the summer as the plants grow well in temperatures ranging from 70 to 90F. Just be sure to water them well when the soil becomes dry. MOROHEIYA is a short-day plant, meaning it begins to flower in late summer. When growing MOROHEIYA at home, DO NOT eat any of the seeds as they contain a toxic substance that affects the heart. On the other hand, the MOROHEIYA leaves sold in stores and online are safe to consume.
At Suzuki Farm, we grow MOROHEIYA from June to August. Although it has only become popular in Japan since the 1990s, we believe that it is one of the best vegetables to eat in the summer due to its high nutritional value. Its unique sticky texture may be unusual for some, but we still recommend giving it a try to our health-conscious customers.